In their first game without DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings started a new era.
Cousins was known as a volatile presence in the locker room, and created an atmosphere where teammates were walking on egg shells.
Although the Kings are right in the mix for the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, it's widely believed that trading "Boogie" means the team is putting up a white flag on the season.
(Ironically, the favorite to now get the No. 8 seed is now Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans, by the way.)
Perhaps the remaining Kings are out to prove some folks wrong.
The first game was a crucial one on Thursday against the visiting Denver Nuggets, who went to the All-Star Break in the eighth slot.
Alas, the Kings came to play, as Willie Cauley-Stein had a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, leading Sacramento to a 116-100 win. Buddy Hield, the centerpiece of the trade with New Orleans, scored 16 points in his Kings debut.
The most memorable moment from the game, though, was a veteran trick by point guard Ty Lawson.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel did a long-standing basketball trick and had it work better than it probably has.
About 15 years ago, basketball guards at all levels started not grabbing the inbounds pass right away, especially in low-clock situations, so the clock would not start until it is touched.
As a defender, all you have to do is give enough of an effort toward getting close to the guard to make them pick it up as soon as possible.
This example is a bit of the opposite of that, but still clever.
After a made basket by the Nuggets with 2:39 to play, Lawson let the ball roll toward halftime. After the made basket, the game clock was moving, but the shot clock did not start until Lawson picked it up.
The most surprising part of the story is that the closest defender was Denver veteran Jameer Nelson.
As Nelson stood by watching, Lawson was able to milk 15 seconds off the clock before the possession even started. Nelson then fouled right away, proving that every second mattered to the Nuggets, who were trailing by 15 points.
It looks like the Kings have some tricks up their sleeves for the stretch run.
Maybe we shouldn't cross them off the playoff contender list quite yet.News Now - Sport News