SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Saturday was "Here We Buy" Night at the Sleep Train Arena.
It certainly wasn't Utah Jazz Night.
Fearful of seeing their team skedaddle to Seattle, Sacramento fans showed up in droves to support their Kings. And for one night, at least, the rowdy crowd was loud and proud like the good old days.
No cowbells were even required to raise the decibel level on a night Sacramento blew out the visiting Utah Jazz 120-109.
"They played to the crowd, and the crowd was into it," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "It gave them a little extra boost of confidence."
It might have looked like it in the second half — when Utah fell behind by as many as 20 points — but the Jazz weren't just being magnanimous in an effort to help their old rivals stay in SacTown.
Despite losing four straight and eight of nine coming into this one — including a 98-91 overtime defeat in Utah on Monday — this pumped-up Sacramento squad looked like a Chris Webber-era club.
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points, including a buzzer-beating layup that gave the Kings all sorts of momentum heading into halftime after scoring four quick points to take a 60-54 lead.
Reserve Marcus Thornton contributed 24 points. Jason Thompson added 21. And three other Kings players hit double figures in scoring in the explosive blowout.
Sacramento shot 51.8 percent, outscored Utah 25-15 on the fast break and converted 18 Jazz turnovers into 23 points while improving to 18-33.
Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette, cheered on when he entered, also got into the action, scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting with three assists and two rebounds.
"They played loose. They made shots tonight," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Give them credit. Their fans were excited about keeping them here."
And the Jazz?
Not so excited.
It was so unexciting for the Jazz, they rallied out of a 13-point deficit to briefly take the lead only to quickly fall behind for good — and by a lot — early in the second half when the Kings went on a 15-4 spurt.
It was so unexciting for Utah, Millsap (six points) got his fifth foul less than three minutes into the third quarter, and he never returned.
It was so unexciting for this potential playoff team, Al Jefferson was the only starter to hit double digits with 16 points.
It was so unexciting for the visitors, defending Slam Dunk champion Jeremy Evans even missed a jam late in the contest.
About the only highlight was Alec Burks' career night of 24 points, easily surpassing his previous high of 17 points.
Oh, and the Jazz hit 25 of 26 free throws, including their first 24.
Utah fell for the second straight night, dropped to 28-24 overall (9-18 on the road) and split the season series with the woeful-against-everyone-else Kings for the second year in a row.
"They came out from the beginning with a lot of energy," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "They fed off of the crowd."
If the Maloofs were as enthusiastic about keeping the Kings in town as the fans and players were in their respective roles Saturday, some other NBA city might be worried about losing its team to Seattle.
Dozens of signs were held up amongst the thousands of boisterous fans, who alternated between chants of "SAC-RA-MEN-TO!" and "HERE WE STAY!"
"Heck No. We Won't Go."
"Cowbell Kingdom Forever."
"Our City Our Kings. Our Town Our Team."
"If the Kings stay, I'll mow everybody's lawn."
"Hey Seattle it ain't over yet, Burkle Up."
That last sign was in regards to Ron Burkle, one of the prospective Kings buyers whom local fans are hoping will be allowed to purchase the organization and keep it in California's capital. It's a last-ditch, grassroots effort to foil Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen's bid to purchase the club from the Maloofs and relocate it to the Emerald City.
"Hopefully, it's not (moving). It's a great community," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who played in Sacramento in 1995-96 during his 16-year playing career.
"I think the fans here have really supported the team for a number of years. It's a lot of jobs for a lot of folk. Just seeing the team leave would hurt a lot of people. It'd be an unfortunate situation if they do leave."
That decision hinges on whether Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former Phoenix standout point guard, is able to put together an attractive-enough offer to convince the NBA's Board of Governors to deny the applied-for Seattle purchase.
Asked before Saturday's game about the fans' concerted effort to stage a rally inside the arena, Corbin thought it was a terrific idea.
"I think it's great," Corbin said. "That's what these folk have done for a number of years with this franchise. They've always supported it, in my opinion."
It wasn't so fun while the crowd went bonkers over and over again as the Kings put on a flurry of highlights, including dunk after dunk and crazy circus shots.
The crowd, hundreds of whom stayed after to show continued support, might have tipped its hand that many fans hadn't been to a game for a decade or so — and not just because attendance was 16,193, the second-highest mark of the season after the 17,317 that showed up on opening night (and ahead of the 14,367 that watched the Kings play defending champ Miami).
Late in the fourth quarter, Sacramento fans performed a well-executed wave that circled the arena multiple times.
Only question that remains to be answered: Was that a boisterous wave goodbye to Sacramento by Kings fans?
"That's incredible. I wish it could be like that every night," Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said. "With that type of energy in the building, we're a tough team to beat."19 comments on this story
Tell the Jazz about it.
They were the only ones who wanted out of Sacramento on this night.