The Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-96, on Thursday night in Sacramento. When Kobe Bryant, who needed 38 points in the finale to surpass Kevin Durant for the NBA scoring crown this season, decided to sit out, the game lost its storyline.
In typical Kobe fashion, even while speaking of the relatively selfless decision to rest rather than chase another scoring title, Bryant somehow still managed to come off as a megalomaniac when he said, "It's not a challenge for me to score 38 points, you know? If that's the benchmark, that's all you need to do, that's not really hard to do that." Nice.
Ramon Sessions was the only Laker starter to appear in the game, as Metta World Peace served the first game of his seven game suspension for elbowing James Harden, and the big three of Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol rested.
And that's really all there is to say about the game.
I usually aim for about 600 words on these recaps, so I've got some time to tell you about my new favorite album, The Hazards of Love by the Portland band The Decemberists. The Hazards of Love is not a new album, strictly speaking, as it was released in 2009, but I've only recently discovered it.
There was a time when rock albums, from Sgt. Peppers to The Wall, were holistic endeavors, with overarching themes and a song sequence that mattered. The innovation of the CD, with its magical random function, effectively transformed albums into collections of unrelated songs.
That transformation is even more complete in the era of iTunes, iPods and shuffle play, and the studio album is fast becoming an anachronism, let alone the concept album. It would be almost unimaginable for an album like Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick, consisting of one 45 minute long track (well, really, two 22 minute long tracks since you had to turn the vinyl over) to be produced in this day and age.
Almost, but not quite. The Hazards of Love is essentially a single piece of music, with interludes connecting distinct songs. Not only is it meant to be listened to from beginning to end -- it demands to be. It tells a story, complete with full blown characters and narrative, a fable of sorts. It is, for lack of a better term, a heavy metal folk opera.
Without going into detail, suffice it to say that the story involves a forest, star-crossed lovers, a jealous queen with magical powers and a villainous kidnapper. It's hard to imagine a more rocking infanticide-themed tune than "The Rake's Song," and "The Hazards of Love Part 3" is easily the best pop song featuring harpsichord and children's choir of this century.
Amazingly, the album is entirely approachable. It is completely captivating, even on the first listen, yet it becomes more compelling on each subsequent listen as the depth of the arrangements, the beauty of the melodies and the complexity of the story are fully appreciated.
The Lakers finish the season with a 41-25 record and the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They open the playoffs on Sunday when they host the Denver Nuggets in Los Angeles. The Kings finish 22-44 and will miss the postseason for the sixth straight year after playoff appearances for eight seasons prior to that.
For all of Thursday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.