yes hello we would like the lead back, thank you
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 15, 2018
Klay Thompson being good at basketball
With three minutes left, the Warriors trailed the Sacramento Kings by 10 points. Two minutes later, that lead was gone. Kevin Durant took the game into his hands to score seven points and Stephen Curry had a fast-break layup. De’Aaron Fox hit a mid-range with a mismatch, then Klay Thompson hit that massive 3-pointer you can see above and the Warriors shut down the Kings to secure a 130-125 win on the road. It was a 17-2 run to take back the lead.
But, the Sacramento Kings are no longer the bottom feeders of the Western Conference. They are among the 14 teams challenging for the eight playoff spots in the West, and with a young core, their success has been impressive. Despite the loss, the Kings played an impressive game.
Here are three notes from tonight’s game:
The most Klay interview of all time
Let’s break this down. Klay Thompson was asked by Kerith Burke, “Klay, what are you noticing about the energy and the ball movement tonight that’s helping you guys unlock the 3-ball?”
Say what, Klay? 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/hwl5zgRgLD
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) December 15, 2018
In case you didn’t catch all of that, here’s what Thompson said.
“It’s great on both si… both, it’s great, both, both of them are great, and we’re getting out and pushing the pace and that’s what our best.”
The “what” at the end of that seemed to mean “when we’re at our best,” but that’s not what came out. As for the first half of that statement, Thompson’s not wrong per se, but his attention didn’t seem to be fully focused on the question, and for that, we have to be thankful.
“I’ve watched you change, Now you feel alive”
Maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but for anyone who’s seen the Kings play basketball over the last few years, you know this season is something wildly different. In the words of the Sacramento metal group Deftones on the song “Change (In The House of Flies),” “I’ve watched you change, Now you feel alive.”
For the first time in a very long time, there is hope for the Sacramento Kings. This team is alive after 12 seasons of sub-.500 records. The Kings fanbase is one of the most tortured in the NBA, and were infamously robbed of a NBA Finals trip and potential championship in the 2002 playoffs.
De’Aaron Fox plays basketball like he’s trying to dribble and dunk through you, while Buddy Hield is waiting on the wing to hit a three. Bojan Bogdanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein, Justin Jackson, Marvin Bagley III and Yogi Ferrell all fill out the rest of a surprisingly deep young core with Iman Shumpert, Nemanja Bjelica and Kosta Koufos providing the veteran presences every successful team needs.
Sure, is taking Bagley over Luka Doncic a questionable, if not potentially haunting move? Yes. But Doncic also made it clear he didn’t want to play in Sacramento and at least for now, the Kings are doing fine without Doncic.
There is optimism in Sacramento unlike any time in recent memory, and it comes down to head coach Dave Joerger establishing a culture of high-energy, uptempto basketball that demands effort from every player. It’s a far cry from when it was the DeMarcus Cousins show, with no one else around Cousins to give the Kings a chance at success. This year is the big leap forward, and it will be interesting to see how the Kings continue their progress.
It’s a Bay Area(ish) shootout
There’s some debate about whether Sacramento is technically the “Bay Area,” but the point is that Sacramento and Oakland are about an hour and a half away. At the very least, the Warriors and Kings are neighbors, and you’d expect neighbors to have some sort of rivalry just based on the principle of proximity alone. But that’s not been the case.
The Warriors and Kings haven’t both been talented at the same time and talent on both sides is generally a prerequisite for a meaningful rivalry. This is the first year that both teams are seriously talented. Tonight’s game was more proof than ever that the coming matchups between these two teams have rivalry potential. There was an end-to-end energy full of high-efficiency shooting on both sides that provided an excitement unlike we’ve generally seen between the two sides.
The Warriors at one point led the Kings by 13 points and later trailed by 10 before climbing back to steal a win. It was an incredibly entertaining final quarter with a Kevin Durant-led comeback capped off by Thompson.
Durant finished with 33 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists along with 4 turnovers. Draymond Green had two points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 turnovers. Curry had 35 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and five 3-pointers while Thompson, despite shooting 10-of-27 from the field, had 27 points, a game-winning 3-pointer, 9 rebounds and 3 assists.