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Best of the Decade: Game Winners

In basketball there's often nothing more exciting than a game winner. We take a look back at Sacramento's 10 best game winners of the decade.

Back in December, I had planned to do a series of articles focused on the best of the decade for the Sacramento Kings€¦ and then I got fired. That kind of killed any motivation to provide content for certain other websites.

But now we're back in business, so I thought I'd bring the series back from the grave.  Especially with no other sports on, let's relive some of the most fun moments from the 2010s.

#10 - Skal Labissiere puts it all on the line (3/4/2018)


The promise of Skal Labissiere was often so much more appealing than the reality of Skal Labissiere.  But damn did he have his moments in his brief time in Sacramento.  Just recognize the sheer audacity of this shot.  The game was tied, meaning the Kings would win the game with any bucket at all.  Skal Labissiere had at this point made just 10 three pointers all season and 13 in his career.  The play was clearly not drawn up for him to shoot either, as evidenced by the confused look Bogdan Bogdanovic gives him when he isn't handed the ball and sees Skal instead turning to shoot.  But that audacity was rewarded and the Kings won in dramatic fashion.

#9 - Willie Cauley-Stein caps off incredible Kings comeback (3/26/2017)


This game winner needs a little context.  With 5 minutes remaining, this game was seemingly over.  The Clippers had an 18 point lead and the Kings were at the point in the game where Georgios Papagiannis was getting minutes.  This comeback was largely fueled by Buddy Hield, who scored 11 points including a sequence in which he hit a three, stole the ball out of the inbounds, and then hit another three.  But Cauley-Stein is the one who capped off the comeback despite almost bobbling the ball away.  Up until the Minnesota game from this season, this was one of the most improbable comebacks in Kings history.

#8 - DeMarcus Cousins with his best Kawhi Leonard impersonation (2/8/2015)


Cousins didn't really hit a lot of game winners in his time in Sacramento but his first one was his best.  Off balance, fading away, and getting the shooter's bounce.

#7 - Isaiah Thomas Steals the Game and John Salmons Seals It (1/28/2013)


This game winner was particularly impressive because the Kings shouldn't have even had the opportunity.  The Hornets had the lead and the ball, but Isaiah Thomas was able to pick off the inbound and found a streaking John Salmons for the go-ahead score.  Special credit to Marco Belinelli for one of the few times he actually managed to help the Kings.

#6 - Buddy Hield's Motown Miracle (1/19/2019)


While most people will only remember the final shot here, this was one of those games where Buddy Hield simply decided to take over.  The Kings were down late but Buddy scored 15 of Sacramento's final 17 points, including this obnoxious one-footed game-winner after nearly turning the ball over twice.  This was an absolute theft and one of the greatest performances of Buddy's career to date.

#5 - James Johnson feat. Yakety Sax (12/28/2012)


James Johnson isn't the most fondly remembered King by any stretch of the imagination (quite the opposite actually) but this moment might be one of the few positive memories.  This final sequence featured broken play after broken play with multiple game-winning attempts either coming up short or being stymied by New York's defense until the ball came out to James Johnson, who had yet to hit a single three pointer all season€¦ until this one. I actually remember being at this game with Rob Hessing (aka section214) and it was the first game-winner I ever got to experience in person.  I don't think I fell asleep till 2 AM off the adrenaline high.

#4 - Houston, you have a problem (12/9/2019)


Someone who isn't very familiar with the Kings or Nemanja Bjelica might be shocked at how far out Bjelica was when he shot this three, but Kings fans quickly learned that Professor Big Shots will shoot from just about anywhere.  Nemanja treats the three point line as a mere suggestion and this was no different aside from the game situation.  Incredible shot.

#3 - Bogi stepback at the buzzer to beat the Lakers (12/27/2018)


I was at a brewery in Folsom celebrating a friend's birthday while this game was on in the background.  That friend happens to be a Lakers fan too, so I was extra miserable when it appeared the Kings were pissing the game away after starting out with such a big lead.  I shouldn't have been worried though, because Bogi came to the rescue.  I had to cut three other Bogi game winners off this list just to cut it to 10, so we know how clutch he can be, but this was another level.  Fading away, well behind the three point line, over the outstretched arms of Tyson Chandler€¦ safe to say, it was not my friend's favorite birthday, much to my delight.   Sorry, not sorry, Bryce.

#2 - When Foxes fly (1/25/2018)


Until this game, the Kings hadn't won in Miami since November of 2001.  De'Aaron Fox was just four years old at the time.  Fast forward 16 years and the Kings were on the verge of breaking that streak. The Kings put the ball in the hands of Bogdanovic, who had already hit several big shots that season, but his jumper fell just short.  Fortunately for him and the Kings, Goran Dragic didn't feel the need to box out his man at the three point line and De'Aaron Fox grew a pair of wings and slammed the ball back in to win the game.  It was an incredible display of athleticism and cemented Fox's status as the franchise's future.

#1 - €œTyreke, Tyreke, at the hoooooooooooooooorn. YEEEES OH MY GOODNESS€ (12/29/2010)


You knew coming in what #1 would be.  It couldn't have been any other shot.  This was not only perhaps the best shot in Kings history (only Bibby's game-winner in Game 5 surpasses it thanks to the situation and importance) it was one of the best game-winners in NBA history.  To this day, I regret that I was not able to watch this game live.  I was at Disneyland with my family at the time, and I remember being at the World of Color, checking my phone every few minutes to see how the game was going.  After I saw my ESPN app show O.J. Mayo hit a shot to put the Grizzlies ahead, I figured the Kings had lost and put my phone away to enjoy the rest of the show.  Once it ended, I checked again and saw something peculiar in the play-by-play that I assumed was an error.

00.0 - Tyreke Evans makes 50 ft. 3 pointer - 100-98

I immediately went to Twitter and saw Kings fans going crazy. I spent the rest of the night watching the video over and over again.  There are just so many great moments, including the fact that Donté Greene was celebrating before the shot even went in.  I don't know if we'll ever see a better game-winner in our lifetime.

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RobHessing
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April 30, 2020 11:42 am

“I actually remember being at this game with Rob Hessing (aka section214) and it was the first game-winner I ever got to experience in person. I don’t think I fell asleep till 2 AM off the adrenaline high.” If memory serves, we were almost directly behind Johnson when he released the shot. And. The. Place. Got. Loud!

Also, I’m glad that you included the “backstory” portion of the video that led up to Tyreke’s shot. What a rollercoaster that was. And how in the world did Donté Green know that it was going in? Amazeballs.

Kosta
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April 30, 2020 12:00 pm

10 Wins all in one sitting? That’s only 7 less than the 2008-2009 Kings season!

The Tyreke game winner is also so special for the moments before and after the actual shot. All of these are special, though.

…Will we ever experience a game winner like Bibby’s Game 5 shot (+Webber’s pick)? Or Kevin Martin’s get-out-and-run winner over San Antonio (+Bibby’s steal and pass)? I’d like to know how loud Golden 1 Center can truly get.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
Nostradumbass 19
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Nostradumbass 18
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April 30, 2020 12:31 pm

Sadly, I’ve never been to a game winner in person. My Dad and I actually considered going to the game that would’ve been the Bogdan game-winner against the Lakers, but ultimately chose not to. But we did watch it on TV.

The closest I’ve gotten to watching game winners live was twice…first was in January 2007 when the Kings were playing the Rockets. Ron Artest hit a game-tying three pointer with about 3 seconds left that sent the game to overtime, but we eventually lost. But I had so much adrenaline/nerves in the moments leading up to the shot, and it got pretty crazy when he hit the shot.

The second time was in 2017 when the Kings were playing the Clippers, and the Kings were trailing by double digits with about four minutes left in the game, and Buddy tied the game with about 12 seconds left with a three pointer. There were these rowdy ladies sitting in front of me that left the game early, so they didn’t see the comeback (which I had no problem with because they were slightly annoying). Unfortunately, Blake hit a layup to take the lead after the Buddy shot, and we couldn’t get a shot off in time to win the game.

OT: How many games have y’all been to with other Kings Herald members? I’ve been to two games with Kosta (one at Sleep Train, one at Staples Center), and at the Clipper game I mentioned above, I unknowingly was sitting near HumboldtCPA and his family.

Greg
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April 30, 2020 12:42 pm

Only 3 comments, Kings must have won these games

RobHessing
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April 30, 2020 1:34 pm
Reply to  Greg

comment image

MyHumbleOpinion
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April 30, 2020 1:27 pm

Watching those clips makes me realize just how much I miss basketball.

Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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April 30, 2020 2:02 pm

No Nemanja?

Fuck it, we deserve this list.

Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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April 30, 2020 10:47 pm
Reply to  Aykis16

Holy hell how did I miss that. Sheesh quarantine brain taking over. Been home with kiddos and wife too long.

DrewGoodenEra
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April 30, 2020 2:58 pm

After moving out of the Sacramento area in the early 90s, I remained a hard core fan of the team. I’ve mostly caught my Kings games when they were on the road (East Coast, SoCal, etc.), depending where I was living at the time. However, I was able to get to a game at Arco every two or three years when I visited family in the area. One of the few games that I was lucky enough to catch was Tyreke’s game winner. Best part about it was that I was able to get two tickets on the floor near center court off of eBay for $100 for the pair. Crazy good seats and an insane price. After usually catching the games in the back corners of the upper deck when I was younger, I was absolutely loving those seats.

As for the game, after the steal and dunk by Tyreke, the crowd was absolutely amped up. The Kings were able to bleed a bit of time off the clock, but OJ Mayo hit his jumper to put the Grizzlies ahead. I know refs tend to swallow the whistle at the end of the game, but someone tell me how many steps he took before the shot. I was down there losing my mind yelling at the ref.

But then it all happened so fast. I look up to see Tyreke just short of midcourt and quickly with the heave. To this day, I can still remember looking up and seeing the ball in the air, which almost seemed to be moving in slow motion. The crowd was still stunned from Mayo’s shot and it was quiet. But that made for the best part, which was being able to hear the ball making a “CHUNK’ sound as it fell through the hoop, which you can hear on the video as well. It was definitely the best Kings game I’ve been to in person and I still get goose bumps watching it 10 years later.

As an aside, I also love how Donte Greene knew it was going in the whole time and was already off the bench and just about in the key when the ball went down.

marvmadness
April 30, 2020 3:54 pm

In my recollection, never seen a Kings buzzer beater win in attendance.

I did see Kobe hit a buzzer beater on the Kings at Staples Center on New Year’s Day 2010. I quickly had to exit from the top of the nosebleeds within 5 seconds in the aftermath.

It was cheaper than watching Kings-Lakers at Arco Arena back in those days.

Otis
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April 30, 2020 5:09 pm
Reply to  marvmadness

I was at the Cousins buzzer beater listed above, so that was bittersweet. 😉

What I remember most though, was IT playing for the Suns at the time – you could tell he was ready to die or kill someone to win that game. He went for 12 in the 4th, but wasn’t quite enough.

Kingsguru21
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April 30, 2020 5:01 pm

The most thrilling for me was the Swipa putback dunk. But only barely. And that’s not a knock on the Tyreke 45 footer game. Both were special. But the topper was winning in Miami, the Kings just hardly win there. Including last season’s victory, the Kings have won in Miami 5 times since 1988. FIVE.

mdeedublu
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April 30, 2020 10:26 pm

I got to the Bjelly buzzer beater and thought “How is this not higher?” then I watched the next three. Classic.

L-Train3.1
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