Recording artist Drake showed up fashionably late (third quarter) to the Kings game Friday night, but by the time he walked in front of the crowd and into his courtside seat a few feet from the visitors bench, the rout was already on. And, no, this time the Kings weren't on the losing end. Kings 110, Dallas Mavericks 97. Keith Smart's squad led by as many as 21 points against the defending NBA Champions, who looked tired and out of sorts, and a team missing its former defensive anchor and screen-setter, Tyson Chandler. (They have to work harder these days for good looks).
A few other late-night musings, observations, stats:
* After noticing some of my colleagues' tweets suggesting that women were particularly appreciative of Drake's appearance, I would like to set the record straight. From my seat across from the visitors bench, it certainly looked like there were just as many men holding up their cellphones for photos and trying to crowd next to the celebrity, but hey, who's counting? Right fellas? At one point, Mavericks assistant Tony Brown complained to the officials because the crowd of photographers and onlookers extended into the Mavericks' huddle during a timeout. Jason Kidd didn't seem to mind too much, though. The Mavs point guard stopped and shook hands with Drake before heading to the locker room with about 20 seconds remaining.
* Ricky Rubio's left knee injury received some chatter post-game. The Timberwolves rookie banged knees with Kobe Bryant with 16 seconds remaining Friday in the Lakers-Wolves game and was helped to the bench in obvious pain. The dynamic point guard kept holding the outside of his knee and left the building on crutches amid fears that he had sustained a major cartilage or ligament injury. At the very least, it appears highly unlikely that he will accompany the Wolves for his Power Balance Pavilion debut next weekend.
* Bill Walton served as television analyst for the game, and as usual, lingered courtside and graciously signed autographs for a mob of youngsters.
* Referencing the near sellout (and boisterous) crowd, Smart reiterated his oft-stated desire to invigorate the fan base and "bring back the cowbells." And, of course, that's all Gavin Maloof needed to hear. The Kings co-owner, who visited the locker room post-game and sat in on the coach's interview, immediately jumped up and said, "We gotta bring back the cowbells! We have to start that Sunday (against the Hawks)." Gavin seems to have forgotten, however, that after repeated complaints to the league office from the likes of Phil Jackson, Donnie Nelson, Jerry Sloan and other visiting coaches in the previous decade, the Kings were urged to discourage fans from bringing the the cowbells to the arena. It was an enduring part of the team's identity, though. The league might want to re-think that one ....
* Drake waited outside the Kings locker room for almost 20 minutes after the game, chatting with folks, posing for photos. At one point he grabbed a basketball and displayedg some decent dribbling skills.
* Mavs owner Mark Cuban was a rare no-show. He was in the Cayman Islands with his family, which was good for him but unfortunate for us, because he always has something interesting to say.
* Kings' most impressive stats of the night: a 25-14 assist/turnover ratio; nine boards by small forward Tyreke Evans; 11-of-27 on three's; 50 percent overall shooting; and a 21-point lead. How often does that happen these days?