Kings Clinch Worst Record
The Kings' final home game of the season had wide-ranging ramifications, not just among the dregs of the league. Fans of Portland, Denver and Houston begged for Sacramento victory as the opponent was the Spurs. San Antonio sat Tim Duncan for a day of rest, and it almost killed them.
Spencer Hawes went ballistic on offense, abusing Kurt Thomas and Matt Bonner for 24 points. Hawes actually borrowed the best parts of each defender's game, nailing two threes in honor of the Red Rocket while also banging for some garbage duty buckets under the rim a la Kurt. But Thomas had remarkable feist in the paint, helping his Spurs to 14 big offensive rebounds, a sector of the game which (along with brilliance from Tony Parker) kept the Spurs in it.
In the end, the game came down to a blown call by the referees. With the game knotted at 92, Michael Finley hit a monumental three with 2.3 seconds left. Unfortunately, the shot clock expired with about 2.8 seconds left. The referees didn't notice the loud buzzer or see the double zeros on the shot clock or notice the really bright red light around the backboard. The refs counted the bucket, and that's not a reviewable play (a potential shot clock violation). The Kings barely got a shot off, and the Spurs won.
San Antonio remains tied with Portland and Houston with the win. Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus noted in a brief post-game dispatch how odd it is that so much of the West's power structure relied on Kenny Natt's coaching prowess in crunch time. As Blazers and Rockets fans will surely not forget soon, Natt called a series of high pick-and-rolls for Beno Udrih, who shot 1-for-11 on the night. Where will amazing happen next?