DeMarcus Cousins had 27 points and 17 rebounds, Isaiah Thomas had 22 points and 11 assists and the Sacramento Kings rallied from 17 down to stun the Miami Heat in overtime, 108-103, at Sleep Train Arena on Friday night, snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Heat.
This was a hotly contested affair that didn't really come to life until the second half.
The Heat, who were playing without Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen, jumped out to a 23-6 lead and it looked like they were going to cruise. LeBron James scored 14 of his 33 points in the first quarter, Chris Bosh was playing fantastic on both ends, and the Kings looked lifeless, trailing 55-45 at halftime.
Then, the third quarter came around, and Sacramento looked like an entirely different team.
However, the turning point of this game came with just over a minute to go in regulation when Mario Chalmers committed an inexcusable flagrant foul on Cousins with Miami up by four. The Kings would tie the score, and after a missed James three at the buzzer, the contest would go into overtime, where Sacramento dominated.
Rudy Gay also had a big night, scoring 26 points for the Kings and nailing huge buckets down the stretch.
James had 33 for the Heat, who saw their streak of 19 straight wins over Western Conference opponents snapped.
Let's break down the keys to this one.
Mario Chalmers' Flagrant Foul
Let's be honest: as well as the Kings played in the second half, it was this mistake by Chalmers that fired them up.
The Heat looked like they had Sacramento on the ropes, and it appeared that the Kings were losing their composure. Then, Chalmers body checked Cousins on a rebound attempt, and the momentum completely shifted.
Suddenly, it was the normally stoic Miami losing its composure while Sacramento seized control.
Don't you already get yelled at enough, Mario?
DeMarcus Cousins Was an Animal
Say what you want about Cousins' attitude and maturity level, but that does not change the fact that this kid is an absolute load inside and can single-handedly dismantle opposing frontlines.
The Heat found this out the hard way on Saturday night, as Cousins eviscerated Miami's frontcourt during the second half. He outmuscled guys for buckets, he grabbed offensive boards and he made outstanding passes that led to good looks for his teammates.
Thanks to Cousins' dominance, the Kings outscored the Heat 60-38 in the paint and outrebounded them 51-35.
Isaiah Thomas Is Growing Up Before Our Eyes
It's astronomically hard to believe that Thomas was the last pick of his draft. Like, seriously?
This kid is good. No; he's very good.
Not only is Thomas blindingly quick, but he possesses very solid leadership skills and did a phenomenal job of keeping his team under control when things got tough against Miami.
He absolutely burned Chalmers and Norris Cole all game and used his speed to wreak havoc in the open floor.
Empty Possessions and Missed Free Throws for Miami
The Heat blew this game in the fourth quarter, and it wasn't just because of Chalmers' stupidity.
Actually, Chalmers did play a role in the missed free throws area, though, as he missed two big ones down the stretch. James and Cole also had misses from the charity stripe as the contest drew to a close.
Plus, Miami just had awful possessions in the second half. I'm still trying to figure out why LeBron, who had 18 seconds to make a move, ended up settling for a long, contested triple at the end of regulation.
The Heat did a lot of that in the second half, too. Just a very uncharacteristic performance by Miami in crunchtime. Sure, having Wade would have helped, but we've seen them close out teams without D-Wade before.