Building the Ultimate Highlight Reel from Sacramento Kings' Regular Season
Another season of basketball has come and gone for the Sacramento Kings, but left behind are tons of great moments and highlights. From opening night, to amazing plays, to memorable events, there's a lot to hold on to.
In that vein, let's relive some of those great memories.
What follows are the ultimate highlights from the team's regular season. While the rankings are only one man's opinion, the highlights were ranked based on importance and wow factor.
As is sure to be the case with an 82-game season, there may be moments you feel should have been included or weren't ranked accordingly, so make sure to provide your own feedback in the comments section.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Williams' Dunk Fail
This one is more of a "lowlight" than a highlight, but it was so hilariously bad that it's one of the things we'll remember from the season.
Against the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Williams got a steal leading to a breakaway. As we'll see later on in the list, the forward can do some pretty acrobatic things dunking the ball. This moment appeared to be another iteration of just that.
In fact, Williams did his best to insure it was, only instead of a spectacular dunk, he had a spectacular fail. He tried to throw an alley-oop to himself off the backboard then slam it home. However, he lost control of the ball and couldn't even get off a dunk attempt.
As you might imagine after doing something embarrassingly bad, head coach Mike Malone immediately pulled Williams from the game.
Honorable Mention: Kings Fans Set Guinness World Record Against the Pistons
The Kings only had one nationally televised game all season, but it was a record-breaking one. The Guinness Book of World Records sent a representative out to Sacramento so the fans could attempt to set a record for noise at an indoor stadium.
The fans broke the record on a couple occasions. They broke it between the first and second quarter, hitting 119.7 decibels. Then, during halftime, the record was broke again, registering at 122.6 decibels.
This wasn't a team highlight, and thus it's only an honorable mention, but it's worth including because it's another example of how passionate Kings fans are. With a capacity of 17,317 people, there are 21 NBA arenas that are bigger than Sleep Train. Yet Kings fans set the record for the world's loudest indoor stadium.
Honorable Mention: DeMarcus Cousins Goes off Against New Orleans Pelicans
DeMarcus Cousins' game against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 31 was amazing. The center finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal. He also nailed 13 of his 18 field-goal attempts and nine of 12 free throws.
According to Basketball-Reference's game score statistic, Cousins' performance on this night was the best in a Kings victory this year. So while other individual performances may have been better (there were three of them), none of them came in a win.
Since winning is the name of the game, this one is included as the best individual performance of the season.
7. Derrick Williams' Breakaway Dunk from Isaiah Thomas
There's a reason Derrick Williams tried the previously mentioned failed alley-oop off the backboard. It's something he'd done before, only the first time it was passed to him by Isaiah Thomas and it actually ended in success.
Thomas set him up on a fast break with a pass off the backboard. Williams grabbed the ball and spun 180 degrees in the air, slamming home a spectacular reverse dunk.
It was the type of move that showed Williams' athleticism and largely why he was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft.
6. Rudy Gay Knocks Down Floater Against Washington to Force Overtime
Trailing 100-98 on March 18, against the Washington Wizards, Rudy Gay grabbed the rebound, dribbled up the court and set up a drive with the clock ticking down. The small forward drove toward the right baseline before pulling up for a floater, hitting the shot with 5.6 seconds remaining.
The game ended up going into overtime, with the Kings pulling out a 117-111 victory. There were certainly more amazing individual plays, but this one makes the list because it tied up the game in a contest the Kings eventually won.
5. Ben McLemore Sends the Game into Overtime at Utah
On Dec. 7 at the Utah Jazz, rookie Ben McLemore hit a huge three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
Trailing 97-94, McLemore nailed the shot with only 3.2 seconds remaining, knotting it up at 97. What was most amazing about the shot was the rookie's struggles up to that point. He had missed all four of his three-point attempts and had only made five of his 17 field-goal attempts. Yet he didn't hesitate with the game on the line.
He added another two points in overtime, and the Kings went on the beat the Jazz, 112-102.
4. Mike Malone's Rant Following Loss to Pelicans
The Kings' loss against the Pelicans on Dec. 23 wasn't a highlight to the season. The same can be said of Mike Malone's rant following the game.
I had a press pass for this game and was on hand for the postgame interview with Malone. It was one of those scenes where you knew you were seeing something special, but not in a good way. I mean, how often do you hear a coach come out and say he needs better players, and then question whether they even care about winning or losing?
Yet the reason why the rant was a highlight was because of the symbolism behind it. Malone inherited a team that had been terrible for years, and a lot of that was due to the complacent nature of the franchise. In just a couple minutes of talking, the coach made it very clear that he wasn't part of that complacency.
For all the skills he's accrued that could make him a good coach, it's his attitude that's perhaps most encouraging, which he displayed on that night.
This could be a case of more correlation than causation, yet it seemed like more. It felt like the night the culture surrounding the team finally started to change.
3. DeMarcus Cousins Goes Coast-to-Coast Against the Bucks
Admittedly, whenever I see DeMarcus Cousins leading the fast break, I always cringe. The center is better off finishing fast breaks than he is starting them. Sometimes, though, like he did against Milwaukee, he can start them and finish them.
DMC grabs the loose ball, then takes it himself the full length of the court for the jam. While this was a fast break, it certainly wasn't a breakaway. Cousins has to weave in and out of traffic before jamming it home.
As color commentator Jerry Reynolds points out, Cousins is the only center in the NBA capable of such a move. It's just another example of the versatility he displays on the court. He's got range, finesse and power to his game, and he displayed those traits on this play.
2. Quincy Acy's Dunk on Marcin Gortat
In terms of highlights, nothing sticks out more than Quincy Acy's dunk on Marcin Gortat.
As play-by-play announcer Grant Napear notes, it was a nice setup by Isaiah Thomas. From there, Acy does the rest, slamming it in Gortat's face.
Perhaps the best part was Gortat's reaction. At first he goes up to contest the shot, then as he sees what's coming he turns to get out of the way. However, despite Gortat's best efforts to vacate the area, Acy ends up posterizing him with a ferocious slam.
Then, to add insult to injury, Acy taunts Gortat and gives him the stink eye.
1. Opening Night
Opening night 2013-14 was so important because it looked like it may never happen. One year ago, there was a very real chance the Kings were moving to Seattle. We all know how it turned out, though.
Mayor Kevin Johnson stepped to the plate, convincing the NBA to give Sacramento a chance to keep its team, and Vivek Ranadive emerged as the man to lead the ownership group that would purchase the team.
When the regular season finally arrived on Oct. 30, it was the culmination of all those events. Local radio host Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports 1140 got things started by firing up the crowd. Then, after a video montage, Ranadive took the mic, telling Kings fans, "This is your team, and it's here to stay."
I was lucky enough to be on hand for this one, and you could feel the energy in Sleep Train Arena. It was just another reminder of how important the Kings are to the Sacramento community.
Agree or disagree with the list? Let me know what you think on Twitter @SimRisso.
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