After getting home and watching replays of a tremendously entertaining KIngs-Clippers game at Sleep Train Arena - and, seriously, this game and the atmosphere approached the level of some of those Kings-Lakers classics - here are a few late thoughts, observations, comments:
This was the best performance of DeMarcus Cousins' young career. Soft midrange jumpers, quick moves and one-handed runners, twisting drives, passes to teammates in the corners, pursuit of rebounds, challenging shots. His talents were on full display.
While Cousins can be a complete "knucklehead," as Charles Barkley likes to say, the third-year center also has been thrust into an almost untenable situation: Young coach; future whereabouts unclear because of the arena uncertainty; absence of a bonafide playmaker and complementary frontline rebounder/shotblocker; an overabundance of selfish, dribble-obsessed teammates; lack of organizational leadership. And yet Cousins still has the instincts, emotional intelligence and competitive drive to come up with 36 points, 22 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in what could be the last NBA game ever played in Sacramento? His teammates should care so much .... and remembering Charles when he was 22.
Cousins' emphatic block on on a drive by Matt Barnes in a fourth quarter, followed by his emphatic salute to the energized crowd, was the play of the game.
Seattle native Isaiah Thomas has been a class act throughout. The way the diminutive guard competes, you wouldn't know whether he's from the Pacific Northwest or Northern California.
Poor rebounding was a crippler throughout the season. Apart from Cousins' 22 boards, none of the Kings managed double-digit rebounds against the Clips. In your home building, in this setting, this is truly unacceptable.
I spent part of the evening wondering why so many of the Clippers' folks appeared so uptight before, during and after the game. Much too tense for a team jostling for postseason positioning. Later, I read T.J. Simers' column in the Los Angeles Times about coach Vinny Del Negro's future and what appears to be intense, ongoing strife within the organization. This is far from the ideal vibe for a team that should be enjoying its best season since Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981. Some things apparently never change. All-Star Chris Paul has to be studying his situation, looking at the Lakers, and wondering about the possibilities...