When it comes to bosses checking in, this was the right kind of visit.
Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof made an appearance in the Kings locker room after Monday night's thriller at Arco, regaining his breath long enough to share his thanks with the team and express his gratitude for a job well done. Of course this came after Gavin made everyone in the building wonder if this was the 2004 playoffs all over again (Kings over Mavs in five games in first round). Gavin stormed the floor after the furious finish, staying long enough to make his way onto SportsCenter and eventually heading for the locker room.
"They have a passion for this game," Kings coach Reggie Theus said.
To say the least.
A few quick thoughts before hitting the road tomorrow...
* Theus was among the masses heaping praise upon Martin for his 39-point outing off the bench, having watched his shooting guard hit 14 of 16 shots and nine of 11 free throws. Of course, this brought Martin's two-game total to 64 points on 21 of 25 shooting (84 percent) in a combined 57 minutes while hitting 19 of 21 free throws.
"It doesn't happen very often," Theus said when asked if he could remember a player exploding like this when coming off an injury. "He's playing like a gazelle right now. His quickness, his jumping - he's feeling good.
"The thing I like about what Kevin's doing for us right now is he's laying it all out. He's blowing it all out, and then when he gets tired he looks over and we get him out of the game."
But only if you have to, of course.
* Dahntay Jones may not have slept a wink on Monday night if the Mavs had pulled off the comeback.
The Kings guard known for his defensive prowess had a tough finish on that end, beginning with the Devin Harris three-pointer from the left corner that tied it 115-115 wtih 38.2 seconds to go. The timing was the torturous part, as the previous possesion included a Francisco Garcia steal that led to a John Salmons layup on the break and a three-point lead as the Kings appeared to be ripping this game from the Mavs' grasps.
Then out of the timeout, an all-alone Harris took the inbounds pass and buried the three. Jones said he and Kevin Martin got mixed up on a rotation.
Then on the next possesion, Jones got beat by Jason Terry on a drive to the right, fouling him on the way up in a three-point play that gave Dallas its first lead since the second quarter.
All was well in the end, though, with Jones able to focus on more pleasant memories. Like that block on Brandon Bass early in the second quarter, perhaps?
Picture two NASA shuttles lifting off and one clipping the other on the way up to the stars and you've got it just about right. Jones and Bass launched at the same time, with Jones shoving the ball straight down Bass' neck.
And from his latest highlight-reel moment to a lighter take, there was Jones and coach Reggie Theus chatting in the locker room afterward about how they'd corraborated for peace midway through the fourth.
Jones fouled Harris hard on his way to the rim, and Jones said Harris balled his fists up as if something ugly was coming. Jones responded with a nose-to-nose hello and some choice words, and both players were assessed tecnhicals. Now here's the funny part.
While Harris was about to shoot his first free throw, Theus motioned to Jones that he should apologize to Harris. Sure enough, Jones did so willingly, leaning over before his second attempt to offer a mea culpa. It was, you can be sure, more about politics with the officials more than anything else, but it's nothing I've seen before either. Harris probably hadn't, either, which would explain the blank stare on his face as he ignored the gesture and shot away. - Sam Amick