The Sacramento Kings had a classic meltdown on Tuesday en route to an overtime loss to the superior Mavericks. Sacramento led by as many as nine late in the fourth quarter before freezing up on offense and letting Monta Ellis pull Dallas back into the game. Two plays in particular stand out: the Tyson Chandler flop that fouled DeMarcus Cousins out of the game in regulation and Tyrone Corbin's decision to burn 10 precious seconds at the end of overtime.
We've already shared the Boogie injustice with you, so here's the gist on Corbin. The Kings trailed by one point with 51 seconds left. Dallas ran down the clock until Dirk Nowitzki missed a one-legged fader. But the loose ball was tapped deep into the backcourt, where Chandler Parsons tracked it down. Twenty-five seconds left, Dallas by one. Sacramento has a foul to give, and the Kings' Ray McCallum does so with 19 seconds left. There's a four-second differential between the shot clock and game clock, and Sacramento has plenty of timeouts.
Corbin has two options. He can foul immediately on the inbounds to put a Mav on the line with 16-18 seconds left and no worse than a three-point deficit, or he can let the shot clock run down, pray that the Mavericks miss and the Kings get the rebound and call a quick timeout, giving Sacramento a final chance to win.
Instead, Corbin chose Door No. 3: He let 10 seconds run off the clock before telling McCallum to foul Ellis.
Ellis hit both, and Rick Carlisle took the opportunity to intentionally foul Darren Collison given how little time was left. The Mavericks won by four and the Kings never even got a chance to tie or go ahead in that final minute.
Now if Corbin had explained that there was a miscommunication, that he intended to let the Mavericks shoot but saw something he didn't like, that he wanted his team to try to trap or whatever, you could almost understand.
Instead, this was Corbin's rationale.
Kings coach Ty Corbin said when he saw Dallas take their time on final play, then decided to foul Monta Ellis— Sean Cunningham (@News10Sean) January 14, 2015
So Corbin thought a veteran team coached by Rick Carlisle might rush up a shot with a 4-second shot clock differential and a one-point lead.
This is the type of thing that drove Jazz faithful batty as Corbin coached that team and it has swaths of Sacramento again bemoaning the firing of Michael Malone. The mistake was bad enough in real time. Hearing Corbin's explanation actually made it worse. That's impressive.
Judging NBA coaches is extremely difficult and grading them out is one of the mysterious arts of NBA management. But when head coaches botch incredibly simple situations like this, it all becomes a little easier. There's a basic threshold of strategic knowledge all NBA head coaches should be able to meet, and on Tuesday Corbin fell short. That matters.