December 8, 2018
Okay, I know the Kings after losing three straight have won that many, the last two against teams that had but nine victories between them. It doesn’t matter who they beat. Every Kings win has begun to feel like a celebration fueled by youth, speed, athleticism, and dexterity. These guys come out firing because they believe with cause that the balls are going in. Cleveland shot fifty-three percent tonight but Sacramento nailed fifty-seven percent while taking seventeen more shots and also making forty-five percent of their threes. Those stats are important but they aren’t the show. That’s De’Aaron Fox flashing down the floor and eluding defenders with moves hard to see and impossible to stop, Buddy Hield being Buddy Long Buckets, Marvin Bagley spinning, hooking, fast breaking, and dunking to get what Cavs TV called a “quiet seventeen,” Nemanja Bjelica converting six of eight for a silent thirteen, Bogdan Bogdanovich jacking up eighteen shots in twenty-three minutes, Willie Cauley-Stein making five of five. It’s also other guys filling their roles. Right, some will say, but what about playing again tomorrow against tough Indiana, that’ll be different. It may well will be. What’s also different is the verve and efficiency this team is playing with. After twelve years of playoff denial and often uninspired basketball, these guys are balling and folks around the league like it.
Notes: Fans remember Collin Sexton last year when several of his Alabama teammates were kicked out for fighting, another sprained an ankle, another fouled out, and Sexton and two teammates were suddenly playing three on five against ranked Minnesota. Though trailing by about fifteen points and being swarmed by double and triple teams, Sexton repeatedly attacked defenders and brought the Crimson Tide within three before the team went viral for this performance. I’m sure everyone thought what I did: this guy’s a player. Tonight, as a Cleveland rookie, Sexton scored twenty-three points, many against De’Aaron Fox, whom he’ll often confront for more than a decade. As an afterthought, the final score was 129-110 Kings.