All Glory To The Beam
11:04 AM EST on February 25, 2023
Whatever else you may read about Kings-Clippers Friday night (and we will assume Comrade Redford will come down off his hyperfroth any day now), know this: Your favorite team is now the Sacramento Kings. Period, full stop, no argument, no debate, no But my family has loved the Knicks since 1758, and it's a tradition that ... Shut up. You're wrong now. Your time-honored allegiances are destroyed, and you are now Children Of The Incarnate Beam.
The Kings beat the Clippers in double overtime last night, 176-175. That's right, acolytes, they did an All-Star Game in the regular season, which meant it mattered and everyone was actually trying. It was not just the third-highest scoring game in NBA history, it included four separate Sacramento comebacks—with 4:25 (145-131) and 1:57 (175-169) left in regulation, and once in each overtime (162-156 and 175-169). Yeah, you read all that the way it happened. The Kings scored the final seven points in double overtime, with the coup de rayon a 19-foot pull-up jumper from De'Aaron Fox with 36 seconds left:
In fact, the game being played not in Sacramento but in Los Angeles instead is one of only two things that don't work about this epochal masterpiece, and we forward not just the box score but all the other salient details because you need them to learn more about your brand new beloveds. The other flaw is in the ESPN headline, which is this abomination: "Kings spoil Russ' Clips debut in 176-175 thriller"
To which we can only say, "Assholes." Russell Westbrook's Clippers debut was about 14th on the list of things that happened here, and that is no slight at Westbrook. You get 176-175, you got the story right there even if they played all night and into the breakfast rush at Eggslut. This was the proportionate response to all the people who hated the All-Star Game for being so All-Star Gamey, and it proved ... well, nothing, really. It is its own monument, all the way down to Sacramento coach Mike Brown saying these words in this order after the game: "There was unbelievable shot making and great defense."
You won, Mike. No need to lie to the people. Any defense other than "You got him" was a preposterous myth. There were more than six points scored every minute for nearly two hours. Three guys (Fox, Malik Monk and Kawhi Leonard) went for 40, the first time that's happened since this game. The Kings scored 88 points IN THE PAINT.
Of the two sides, though, the Clippers are the ones with the reputation for defense, so they'll have the most explaining to do in today's video session. The Kings treat defense as though it is the neighbor dog's poop, and last night was the logical extreme of that. Their defensive quarter splits were 40, 40, 37 and 36, so they were getting better as the night went on, which flies in the face of the fact that they had played the night before at home. At some point, you'd think they'd just be a bit knackered, but they are indefatigable if the measure is points scored. They have gone for 130 or more in five of their last seven games, and have scored at least 120 in nearly half their games; they've also allowed 120 in nearly half their games, so all those points are fairly important. Nothing inspires scoring quite like letting the other guy score, too.
Last night, indeed, was the proof if proof were needed that the Kings of all teams are the new cutting edge of sweaty entertainment. They gave you the equivalent of Washington 72, New York Giants 41 in 1966 ... and Phillies 23, Cubs 22 in 1979 ... and Oilers 12, Black Hawks 9 in 1985. They are the 20th most prolific offense in NBA history, and the best since 1982. In short, you needn't find the beam because the beam finds you, and usually catches you on a backdoor layup.
Plus, they next have games Sunday and Tuesday in Oklahoma City, the only team in the league that hasn't sold out a home game yet this season. If the Thunder's legion of absentees cannot feel the heat of the beam enough to pack the house at least once, the team should be shipped back to Seattle. After all, the Kings are now America's Home Team, and there should be a beam in every city as acknowledgement of that fact. Now go buy a KZ Okpala hoodie and give in to the irresistible.