For all of the attention brought their way in recent days thanks to their on-again, off-again reported move to Seattle, the Sacramento Kings played in the forgotten game on Thursday night.
With three of the Eastern Conference elites (the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat) and a Western Conference playoff-hopeful (Portland Trailblazers) garnering national broadcasts, the Kings welcomed the Dallas Mavericks to Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings won each of the first three quarters, carrying a 10-point advantage into the final quarter.
But the Mavericks erupted for 33 points in the period, looking ready to hand the Kings their third consecutive loss and snap their own four-game losing skid in the process.
Trailing by three with less than 20 seconds left, the Kings looked DeMarcus Cousins' way off the in-bounds pass.
But Cousins, who finished the night with a game-high 29 points, was clearly the focus of the Dallas defense. The tenacious Shawn Marion hounded Cousins from the moment he caught the ball, and when Cousins dribbled to his right, Vince Carter brought help from the wing.
That freed up exactly enough space for the 5'9" Isaiah Thomas to fire a three over the closing 6'2" Mike James.
A friendly bounce off the glass gave both the Kings an extra life and the NBA a reminder of just how lively the Sacramento fans can get.
Ultimately, though, the shot gave the Kings little more than an addition to their highlight reel.
Dallas outscored Sacramento 16-11 in the extra session and escaped with a 117-112 victory.
Thomas' shot will garner some recap love and Dallas' win is noteworthy if nothing else for ending their losing streak.
But Cousins once again stole the show. And once again it had nothing do with yet another strong statistical performance.
With an elbow delivered to the face of Vince Carter, Cousins was sent packing:
Referees review play and make DeMarcus Cousins hit on Vince Carter's face a flagrant foul penalty 2 which leads to ejection.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) January 11, 2013
Given the certainly rocky ground he's standing on for his past transgressions, this could warrant a review from the league office:
No matter how many times they show that replay, it's not looking any better for DeMarcus Cousins.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) January 11, 2013
For the Mavericks, O.J. Mayo led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Marion chipped in with his own double-double, finishing the night with 19 points and nine boards.
But Dirk Nowitzki was the big story for Dallas.
His 17-point, nine-rebound effort wasn't great by his own standards.
But his season-high 40-minute outing was a welcome sight for Mavericks fans.