Kings are princes no more

December 22, 2009, 7:08 pm
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Programming Note:Comcast SportsNet California will be re-airing the Kings' historic win in Chicago. Don't miss the encore presentation at 4pm on Dec. 26.
Because they're the Kings, and because the Kings are typically regarded as princes (at best) when it comes to Bay Area sports, Monday night didn't quite get the play it deserved -- regionally or nationally.Fortunately, history has way of eventually giving such happenings their due. So come, say, 2024, you'll likely stumble upon some sort of "NBA Classics" channel that's among your 14,347 cable offerings and get a detailed breakdown of Sacramento's mind-blowing 35-point comeback against the Chicago Bulls.First of all, it's important to note that the Kings were down 35 in the second half. Not that bouncing back from 35 down in the second quarter is anything at which to scoff, but what the Kings did is far more impressive than what the comeback-record-holding Utah Jazz did in 1996.The Jazz trailed the Nuggets by 36 in the second quarter and won by four. The Kings trailed the Bulls by 35 with 8:50 left in the third quarter, and they were still down by 33 a couple of minutes later before storming to a four-point win of their own.In short, the Jazz had more than a half -- 27 minutes or so -- to come back from 35. The Kings had about a quarter and a half to come back from 33. Advantage, Kings.How'd they do it? Not even head coach Paul Westphal is sure."I'm not even sure I believe it," he said, "but it sure was fun."That might be understating things. It was beyond fun. It was borderline comical. Once the comeback started, it was like watching the Road Runner tooling Wile E. Coyote. One side did everything right, the other did everything wrong.And the Bulls are no joke. They're a better team than their 10-16 record suggests, at least talent-wise. They've got Joakim Noah, who is a lot better in the NBA than most people expected. Luol Deng is one of the rare former Duke players who's turned into something special as a pro, mostly because he didn't stay at Duke long enough for Coach K to systematically castrate his game. Derrick Rose is a flat stud, and Kings fans are well aware that John Salmons can play a little bit. The Kings, though, have Tyreke Evans, the hands-down pick for Rookie of the Year at this point. Evans outscored the Bulls 9-3 to finish the game, enhancing his steadily growing legend.But Evans was merely the closer on this night, and as is often the case in baseball, the setup man was the real hero who deserved the save. On Monday night, the Kings' setup man was Ime Udoka, who scored 15 of Sacramento's first 22 points of the fourth quarter.Ime Udoka? For real?Yes. Ime Udoka. An undrafted small forward out of Portland State who has played in the Developmental League, in Europe and for the Nigerian National Team, he's averaged 5.9 points per game over parts of six NBA seasons.Think that story might get some play in 2024? Congrats, Kings. Princes no more. When it comes to compelling NBA action, you have the NorCal crown.