The Sacramento Kings were up 17 points, 67-50, with 23 minutes remaining. Anthony Davis had piled up a bunch of turnovers (he had 5 on the night) and the entire New Orleans Pelicans team had been beyond sloppy all night, committing 15 (!?!) turnovers in the first half. This basketball game was ugly; fast and loose by both teams with horrendous defense and the occasional highlight.
Would that deter the Kings from losing this game? Have you watched the Kings this season? This decade? However bad it might feel as a Pelicans fan right now, the good people who root for the Kings have it a thousand times worse. The Kings last made the playoffs in 2006. How long ago was that in basketball years? Chris Paul was a rookie playing for the "Oklahoma City/New Orleans" Hornets.
Did the Kings let the Pelicans back in the game? Of course the Kings let the Pelicans back in the game.
Pelican fans, do not under estimate the Kings ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Franchise doing postdoctoral work on it.— David Fisher (@usnfish) March 8, 2016
Such a Kings game.— Greg Wissinger (@gwiss) March 8, 2016
Both teams traded runs and by the end of the third quarter New Orleans had "cut" the Kings lead to just six points. Jrue Holiday brought the Pels even with a layup with 8:40 remaining and hypothetically it was a game. Sacramento answered with an 11-1 run to push the margin back to double-digits with 6:40 to go in just four possessions, three of which resulted in wide open 3-pointers. In total the Kings scored on seven consecutive possessions over a span of 3:38. Calling the defense poor by New Orleans is an understatement.
Then the Kings decided it was time to lose, with a subtle assist from the officials. In the following 12 possessions the Kings committed FIVE turnovers. Two of those turnovers were created by Holiday.
First, he battled Cousins in the post after a switch and picked of a Darren Collison lob attempt leading directly to a Dante Cunningham dunk. That play cut the Kings lead down to just two points. After two free throws by Cousins extended that lead out to four again a Holiday-Davis pick and roll (hint, the Pelicans should run this a lot) led to a dunk. Was Holiday's overhead toss a shot or a lob? Regardless (it counted as a missed shot by Holiday and an offensive rebound by Davis) the Kings lead was again cut to two points.
DeMarcus Cousins went around Kendrick Perkins like he was standing still (which isn't far from the truth) only to miss the layup attempt as the officials missed Perkins fouling Cousins upside the head. The play-by-play calls it a block by Perkins but I saw a pretty obvious foul, which both David Wesley and Joel Meyers mentioned during the broadcast.
Norris Cole set up Dante Cunningham for his second consecutive wide open corner 3-pointer to take the lead in the final minute, and this time the former Villanova Wildcat came through. It was the Pelicans first lead since 44-42 with over seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Pelicans got another stop and the Kings elected not to foul with just five seconds difference between the shot and game clocks. Jrue Holiday took a long two with far too much time left on the clock and buried it anyway to stretch the lead back to three points.
Jrue Holiday be like... pic.twitter.com/ht4F2V2iQi— David Fisher (@usnfish) March 8, 2016
After the Kings went quick after a timeout and Cole converted two clutch free throws the lead remained three with seven seconds remaining. That's when Jrue Holiday created the second critical turnover, this time picking fellow UCLA guard Darren Collison clean at half court to ice the game.
After that sloppy first half the Pelicans committed just two turnovers in the second half. Anthony Davis led the way with 31 points and 10 rebounds. Norris Cole chipped in 23 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds. Holiday had 20 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals. Ryan Anderson led the team with an impressive +24 plus-minus to go along with his 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 (!) assists. Dante Cunningham didn't stuff the box score (although he did have 4 steals himself thanks to the general malaise of ball security) but scored five of his seven points in the last three minutes.
DeMarcus Cousins had 40 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 5 turnovers. The Pelicans could not corral him in any way, shape, or form tonight. He feasted particularly on Kendrick Perkins, taking him off the dribble at will. Rajon Rondo (18 points and 10 assists) and Rudy Gay (18 points and 10 rebounds) also chipped in double-doubles. Pelican-for-a-day Omri Casspi had 15 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.
New Orleans has tomorrow off for rest and travel. The schedule picks back up on Wednesday against on the road against the Charlotte Hornets. Early start on the east coast at 6:00 PM on Fox Sports New Orleans. That's the first of a five game road trip which will take the Pelicans from coast to coast ending against these same Kings next Wednesday. Considering the road record of this team, I wouldn't expect a lot of wins.