The Kings were beside themselves Monday night after their 133-129 improbable overtime comeback victory over the Timberwolves.
Both locker rooms were left wondering what the heck just happened, except with different moods attached to the question.
In the Kings’ locker room, Kent Bazemore was watching the highlight of De’Aaron Fox’s free-throw miss and layup that tied the game in regulation, and watched it multiple times to make sure it actually happened.
On his phone you could hear the call from Wolves play-by-play broadcaster Dave Benz, whose call said something to the effect of, “I can’t believe it.”
Former Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver sitting nearby said, “Yes, you can.”
Tolliver, a 12-year NBA veteran, admitted he had never seen anything like it in his career.
“It was pretty insane,” Tolliver said.
It just confirms how improbable this Wolves collapse was. ESPN said since it began tracking in 1996, teams were 0-8,378 when trailing by 17 or more in the final three minutes before Monday.
Coach Luke Walton didn’t believe the Kings had a realistic shot of winning until “about 45 seconds left” when the Kings were down two possessions. That actually didn’t happen until three Buddy Hield free throws with 37 seconds remaining. The numbers are just staggering as to how the Wolves lost this game. They were up nine with 39.2 left, up 14 with 1:46 left, 17 with 2:49 left and somehow lost the game.
The Kings also trailed by 27 late in the third quarter.
From an incredulous Wolves locker room Shabazz Napier, when reflecting on the legacy of the late Kobe Bryant, said: “The competitor he is, he would be upset with us, truly upset with us, and I think once you step on them lines all you’re thinking about is playing the game and playing at the highest level. Today, we did a dishonor to him, to the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, to the fans.”
Hield, meanwhile, was proud after the game to honor his idol by shooting 24 shots, in honor of Bryant’s No. 24, and scoring a symmetrical 42. When asked what this win and what Bryant meant to him, Hield spoke for over four minutes uninterrupted.
“It felt great man, I’m not going to lie,” Hield said. “It was really emotional. Everyone knew what was going on in the atmosphere. A tragic loss. The greatest of all time, in my opinion. Growing up in the Bahamas, Kobe was that guy that made you believe, man. He helped me get out. He helped me through all the struggle …
“I used to watch the Finals games with my shirt off in the hot house, just sweating, screaming defense. Everything was Kobe for me growing up. Thank God for bringing him on this earth, man. He changed a lot of people’s lives and impacted a lot of people’s lives in a lot of ways that you can’t even describe.”
The Kings left laughing and buoyant. The Wolves left shaking their heads. Ten losses in a row, this one being one of the largest collapses in recent NBA history.