The Kings’ 122-114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night had a bizarre ending at Crypto.com Arena.
Down by five with just under 25 seconds left in the game, guard De’Aaron Fox thought he was making a smart move that ended up costing Sacramento a possession.
After Lakers guard Malik Monk missed a free throw, Fox purposely let the ball roll, thinking the clock would stop and time would be on Sacramento’s side.
But to Fox’s knowledge, and many others, that wasn’t the case.
It was technically no one’s possession after the missed free throw, so officials ruled it a jump ball -- which the Kings lost, giving the ball right back to the Lakers.
Kings coach Alvin Gentry was visibly and verbally frustrated with the call but told reporters after the loss that officials made the right call.
“Before you ask me about that play, it’s a horses--t rule in the NBA,” Gentry told reporters. “The referees did exactly what they were supposed to do. It is the rule. They enforced the rule the way it is. If anything needs to be changed, the rule needs to be changed.
“I think there needs to be some common sense about, you know, we have the basketball right there, they started the clock, we didn’t start the clock, it wasn’t our error, and so we got punished for a dumbass rule, that’s the bottom line. But it had nothing to do with the officials. All they did was exactly what they were supposed to do. They enforced the rule.”
But with less than 25 seconds left, it’s unclear how much that possession would have changed the game.
Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes said he’s not familiar with the rule, but didn’t blame the officials’ decision in the team’s loss.
The Kings’ 18 turnovers, including Fox’s two in the finals moments of the game, turned into 21 points for Los Angeles, while the Lakers turned the ball over five times.
“I’ve really never seen that before,” Barnes told reporters after the game. “I don’t think that was a contested ball or anything like that. But I don’t want to sit here and base our entire game off that one jump ball. We were obviously active in the things that led to that so we have to look at the little broader picture. There’s other errors that we could have been better at. We didn’t lose the game just off of that.”
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Even with their haunting turnovers and the strange ending, the Kings battled all four quarters.
And despite an incredible effort from Buddy Hield and Fox, who combined for a collective 56 points, the Kings came up short.
Sacramento will look to bounce back on Wednesday as they host Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks at Golden 1 Center.