In this overly selfish world where professional sports games are stolen within the ink blot on a referee’s paycheck… er… I mean the blink of an eye, there are some things that aren’t meant to be yours for the taking. The crowd was on their feet at the Sleep Train Arena Tuesday evening, their gasps frozen in their throats as they watched their beloved Sacramento Kings go toe-to-toe with the hard-boiled Dallas Mavericks. Kings had lost one of their most valuable resources, Rudy Gay, to a left knee strain earlier in the game, and they were tied 99-99 with 21 ticks left in the fourth.
“This was a gutsy win that we really had no business winning,” Mavericks’ starter Chandler Parson mused in the visitors’ locker room following the dramatic game.
But why was that?
Did it have to do with big man DeMarcus Cousins being called for an offensive foul against Tyson Chandler after he apparently grazed Chandler’s head with his body? The call essentially fouled out Cousins, the Kings most dominant player. Up until that point, Cousins put up 32 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists during the four quarters, was looking to pull out the win for the home team in the final minutes of the game. Sans Cousins, the Kings weren’t able to regroup, and ended up falling to the Mavericks 108-104 in overtime.
The question remains, was it a flop that won the game?
This leaves this particular writer in a strange juxtaposition as a person who was born and raised in the city of Sacramento, a person who, when cut, bleeds purple and black because that’s how science works (sure?), yet was welcomed and nurtured in my career as a sports writer by the Dallas Mavericks.
“On the offensive end, we missed a lot of bunnies, a lot of floaters, a lot of threes, but we just tried to stay with it,” Parsons said, prior to the previous remark. “You’re gonna have games like that.”
It’s true, Dallas fought hard in a game that, as Las Vegas bookies put it, was supposed to be a “cake walk,” especially without Gay. “It was an important game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle expressed as he shrugged for the media. “We got out of here alive, which was great.”
Yet it almost wasn’t meant to be with Dallas nipping at the heels of Sacramento nearly the entire game, until that specific moment in the fourth presented itself.
After Tyson went down and Cousins was sent packing, the Mavericks were able to set themselves up defensively in order to win the game. Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis made their presence known during the course of the four quarters for the Mavericks in the backcourt, which helped Dallas overcome a 10-point deficit in the final 12 minutes. “When you’re down 10 points with 4:11 to play, you virtually have to pitch a shutout to win a game or even get it to OT,” Carlisle said.
There were many moving components that won this game for the Mavericks, not just a supposed act worthy of a People’s Choice Award (Oscars? No. Golden Globs? Meh), an occurrence that started a vivacious chant of “you suck ref” from those dedicated die-hards in attendance. To them, it’s the 2002 Western Conference Semifinals all over again, just with an unfortunate dyslexic outcome.
Everything, and I do mean everything, that happened in the fourth stands out in the Mavericks’ narrow win over a struggling team on the verge of becoming a critically strong presence in the Western Conference. And because of those fourth occurrences, Dallas walked away with another checkmark in the win column, regardless of what ugliness it took for them to obtain it.
The Mavericks head to Denver to face the Nugget in the final game of a back-to-back.