Latest posts by Don McCormack (see all)
- Insider: Cavs could offer best package for Kemba Walker - January 20, 2018
- Stein: Cavaliers headed back to Finals - January 20, 2018
- Stein on LeBron’s free agency: ‘Don’t write off Cavaliers’ - January 19, 2018
Vince Carter turned the clock back for the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night and it struck midnight for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 40-year-old Carter, who had sat out the previous three games because of a rib injury and a coach’s decision, looked like Tom Sheppard (played by Leon Robinson) on the playground in the classic hoops movie, “Above the Rim” in leading the Kings to 109-95 upset victory over Cleveland.
The former high flier and slam dunk champion now in his 20th season in the league poured in 24 points against the Cavaliers, who had no answer for him. Carter made 10 of 12 shots in 30 minutes before leaving to a standing ovation in the final minute of play.
“The shot was falling tonight but it was our ball movement, and the ball found the open guy,” Carter told reporters after the game. “It just made it fun to watch. If we play that way we could be a pretty good basketball team.”
In addition to the gaudy shooting line and leading the young Kings to the improbable victory (Cleveland was a 9.5-point favorite going in), Carter made some history — he became the first 40-plus-year-old reserve to score at least 20 points in a game, according to the Kings.
“He had some bombs,” Cleveland’s LeBron James said of Carter. “Once he got going, we couldn’t slow him down.”
Carter’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the Kings an 85-80 advantage as a lead into the fourth quarter. The former North Carolina star canned another 3-pointer at the 5:38 mark and, as a cherry on top, then connected on a 16-foot double-pump bucket over Cleveland’s Jae Crowder.
With 20.1 seconds to play, Kings coach Dave Joerger subbed Carter out and the veteran received a rousing standing ovation from the appreciative home crowd.
“He’s always been a guy, big stage, big moment, that’s been his time to shine,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who faced Carter during his playing days, said. “Couldn’t stop him tonight.
“He had it going.”
The Kings (12-22) back up Carter well, too. Willie Cauley-Stein added 17 points and nine board off the bench, while Bogdan Bogdanovich was next in line with 16 points — including a solid 6-of-9 performance from beyond the 3-point arc — and eight assists. Veteran big man Zach Randolph chipped in what 14 points and seven rebounds.
“We had a lot more zip to us tonight,” Joerger said. “You don’t beat a team like that without having everybody contribute, and they did.”
James had a triple-double for Cleveland with 16 points, 10 boards and 14 dimes, while Kevin Love had 23 points.
“They outscrapped us,” Lue said. “They changed their lineup. We didn’t prepare for that but that’s no excuse.”
Considering the Kings were embarrassed in a 122-95 loss in Los Angeles to the Clippers the night before while Cleveland was waiting for them, that speaks volumes.
Joerger changed his starting lineup. Rookie Frank Mason III made his first start and Malachi Richardson made the first start of his career. Both scored four points, but by starting the young tandem, Joerger was able to go small to match up with the Cavaliers and, more importantly, to bring Carter and Cauley-Stein off the bench.
It worked to perfection.
For the second straight game, the Cleveland bench, which has performed so well all season, had it handed to them by the opposition. The Kings’ subs, led by Carter and Cauley-Stein, outscored their Cavalier counterparts, 68-32.
The Cavaliers (24-11) lost back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game skid back on Oct. 25 through Nov. 1. Cleveland has now lost three of four after winning 18 of the previous 19 games.
“We had zero rhythm,” James said. “Had some early in the first, had some in the third when we cut the lead but other than that we just didn’t have rhythm.”
Cleveland wraps up its three-game road trip Saturday night at Utah, while Sacramento will host Phoenix on Friday night.