Entering the time of year where college basketball produces more attention than the NBA because of the NCAA Final Four Tournament, fans were in for a show Tuesday night, brought on by two former college teammates. Former University of Kentucky stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins played opposite of each other in a head-to-head matchup, both playing outstanding basketball with bright futures.
Drafted in the same year-2010-2011 NBA season-John Wall went No.1 to the Washington Wizards and DeMarcus Cousins went number No. 5 to the Sacramento Kings. Cousins is leading his team in points, rebounding, blocks and steals (22.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.5 steals). While the former No.1 pick Wall is leading his team in points, assist and steals (19.8 points, 8.7 assist, 1.9 steals).
The Kings are still trying to find their identity with new pickups to the team such as forward Rudy Gay, acquired from the Toronto Raptors and forward Derrick Williams, whom they received from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wall, a first time All-Star and this year’s slam dunk contest winner, is trying to lead the Washington Wizards as they try to enter this year’s playoffs with some momentum.
Currently the Wizards hold the number five seed in the east with a 35-32 record.
The beginning of Tuesday’s game started slow with Cousins getting into early foul trouble and Wall struggling from the field but the middle. However, the finish of the game would not disappoint fans. Besides the lopsided first quarter the game remained close all the way to the end. The Kings were able to create some turnovers, but on many possessions they failed to convert because of the Wizards’ great transition defense.
The Wizards were so determined to stop any fast break points that Wall received a flagrant foul trying to contest a layup in the third quarter with 7:35 remaining in the quarter. It would be this kind of battle that would lead both teams to rely on their stars down the stretch of the game.
Wall received help from running mate Bradley Beal who contributed mightily but it would be up to Wall to seal a victory on the road as he was sent to the free throw line with less than ten seconds on the clock at the end of the fourth quarter. The first free throw attempt was missed as the stadium rocked with excitement. The second free throw, went hard left that Gay grabbed for the rebound and showed the Sacramento fans why there should be excitement for the future of the Kings.
Gay drove the ball down the court without calling a timeout, got to his sweet spot and swished in a basket with five seconds left in regulation, tying the game at 100. At that moment, fans that left had to be thinking the Kings would loss another home game, were somewhere in the parking lot upset they lost hope.
Needless to say, the Kings would eventually prevail in overtime, getting 24 points for the game out of each of the three Kings of Sacramento; Cousins, Gay and Isaiah Thomas, who also added 10 assists and 10 rebounds to record his first NBA triple double. Moreover the Kings have something special in Sacramento. Even though their record doesn’t mirror their talents; the Kings have uniqueness, that if given the right leadership and a summer to build chemistry, they will be a force in the competitive NBA’s Western Conference.
Dennis Freeman is a college student and a photojournalist. His porfolio includes shooting photos for Sacramento City College, covering the Sacramento Lions of the United Football League and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Dennis is a native of the Bay Area and resides currently in Sacramento where he does freelance photography. He is recently engaged and a proud father of his young son Elijah.