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The Sacramento Press called me Friday afternoon to see if I would be able to cover tonight's game against the Denver Nuggets. I jumped at the opportunity to get media credentials and be able to walk behind the scenes at Arco.
THE PRESS LOUNGE:
Free food for the media.
The “dinner of champions."
A countdown clock in the Press Lounge shows how much time is left before the game starts.
Look at me, I'm part of the press.
I got to sit courtside, right by the Denver bench.
THE FIRST QUARTER:
Jon Brockman started the game for the Kings!
Brockman grabbed four of his career-high 12 rebounds during the first quarter. There were many other times when he might not have ended up with the rebound, but his hands were always in the mix.
Spencer Hawes picked up the first of the Kings' three technical fouls in the first quarter. The other two were given to Coach Paul Westphal in the end of the second quarter and Tyreke Evans in the middle of the third quarter.
Unfortunately during the first quarter, the Kings did not play well as a team. They committed seven turnovers that Denver used to make 7 points. At the end of the first quarter, the Nuggets were up by 7.
The Kings started playing slightly better as a team. Kenny Thomas made a nice drive to the basket with under nine minutes left in the half .
The Kings ended the second quarter down 54-43.
The Kings played with passion and determination in the third quarter and outscored the Nuggets 30-22, but still trailed 76 to 73 at the end of the quarter.
Jason Thompson showed great spirit and grabbed a defensive rebound with 5:28 left in the quarter. He ended up stumbling to the ground. Instead of calling a time out, Thompson was able to pass the ball to Beno Udrih who sent the ball flying to Omri Casspi who buried a 20-footer. This tied the game at 61 a piece.
One of the funniest moments of the game occurred with just under 4 minutes left in the third.
Tyreke air-balled a three-pointer and J. R. Smith got the rebound, but thinking that the ball had gone out of bounds, he stepped out to then inbound the ball. The referees, quickly whistled that the ball had in fact stayed in bounds. Smith gave all of Arco a nice laugh as he committed a foolish turnover.
With approximately eight minute left in the game, the Kings showed their tenacity again as the ball was stolen but not secured. Players dropped to the floor to grab the loose ball. What resulted was a dog pile of giants. I began to wonder when the Kings started playing football on the hardwood.
The crowd became electrified when with 1:04 left in the game Omri sank a three-pointer to take the lead, 96-95.
The crowd remained on their feet for the remainder of the game. With 15 seconds left, J.R. Smith fouled Beno who went to the line and made both free throws allowing the Kings to reach the 100-point threshold. Kings were up 100-97.
With 11 seconds left, Chauncey Billups sank a three-pointer to even the game up at 100.
In the Kings' final possession, Tyreke Evans showed that he is “the play maker.” He demanded the ball and made an 11-footer to take the lead with less than a second left on the game clock.
The entire arena was tense. The Nuggets bench rose to watch the final play creating a bit of a Great Wall of Denver in front of me.
With 0.07 seconds left in the game, the Nuggets in bounded the ball to J.R. Smith who launched a long 3-pointer and missed.
The Kings Won!
Arco Arena was deafening as the entire place broke out into huge cheers and applause for the Kings who fought back from a 13-point deficit to claim victory over the North Western division leading Denver Nuggets.
After the game, Gavin Maloof and his female entourage attended Coach Westphal's post game recap.
Westphal commented on Brockman starting and the larger role he is earning on the team. Westphal also commented on the poise of rookie Tyreke Evans and how he wanted the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
Brockman going to the rim, but missing because he tried to lay it in rather than slamming it home.
Omri for Three!