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December 22, 2010, 02:19 AM ET
In Its Own Way, a Classic

by Kevin Pelton

When Ross Siler asked our waitress to turn the TV to the Golden State Warriors-Sacramento Kings game at tonight’s SSSBDA meeting, it was with a certain sense of shame. What kind of people want to watch two teams that are a combined 24 games below .500? As it turned out, the game was well worth the effort to get the remote control. No, Warriors-Kings won’t have any impact on the season as a whole. It wasn’t particularly well-played by NBA standards. In fact, the final two minutes featured a series of painfully ill-conceived mistakes.

Still, when I think back of the most entertaining games of the 2010-11 season, Golden State and Sacramento will have a place because of its wacky, funhouse quality. The Warriors blew a double-digit first-half lead only to see the Kings go up by 16 points early in the fourth quarter. Sacramento still led by five with 19 seconds left when the Kings fouled three-point shooters not once but twice on the same possession, getting a break when Reggie Williams and Dorell Wright combined to split their six attempts at the foul line. Williams missed his second free throw with a 102-99 score and less than three seconds on the clock, but Golden State got a reprieve from DeMarcus Cousins, who fumbled a missed free throw for the second time in 20 seconds. In this instance, the ball bounced out of bounds to the Warriors, who got a chance to tie the game on their final shot.

The game-tying hero would be Vladimir Radmanovic, the enigmatic forward whose play I lamented on Twitter each of the last two nights (this time because of a costly turnover in the midst of a Golden State run and a blown finish at the rim in the final minute). Radmanovic, having already redeemed himself by hustling down a loose ball to set up Wright’s free throws, rattled in a high-arcing triple attempt as the buzzer sounded to force overtime, where the Warriors finished the game on a 7-0 run to win going away. Did I mention that this run was highlighted by Monta Ellis banking a shot with his back to the basket to give him 36 points on the night?

The Warriors and the Kings will never be confused for a battle of top teams, but for those of us on the West Coast and East Coast night owls who happened to catch it, it was the kind of unexpected treat that makes the long NBA regular season worth watching.

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