Sit ran onto the court and reached the other end under the hoop. Durant was leaning over Jason Kidd’s body as the ref was kneeling down next to the veteran. Sit pushed Durant out of the way and knelt down next to Kidd on the opposite side to the ref. Kidd was visibly in pain. He was wincing and gritting his teeth. He was clutching onto the top of his right arm near the shoulder.
“Where’s it hurt?” Sit asked him.
Kidd could only manage, “Shoulder.”
“Dislocated?” Sit wanted to make sure.
Kidd didn’t think so and shook his head, “Still hurts a lot.”
The ref had gotten up and waved over to the sideline. The Stealth team physio as long as some of the Kings’ staff came onto the floor. Sit stood up and walked over to Durant.
Durant explained how Kidd had gone for the rebounded and got knocked over by Shaquille O’Neal. Sit looked over at the Kings bench and saw their rivals in a huddle. Shaq was watching and Sit noticed some concern shown in his facial expression. Sit looked back over to where Kidd was.
“We’re going to help you up Jason,” one of the Kings’ trainers instructed him, “We will take it slowly and get you back into the locker room.”
Kidd nodded as two guys helped to lift his upper body up so that he would be in an upright sitting position. They then helped him stand up and making sure that they didn’t cause him any more pain than he was already suffering. The Kings crowd was silent throughout the ordeal once they had realised that the League’s national treasure was fallen. Applause filled the arena as Kidd was shown walking off the court. The Kings took a timeout.
“I won’t be playing anymore tonight Coach,” Kidd told Sit as he was escorted off the floor.
They reached the Stealth bench and Sit smiled, “That’s cool. Go get the shoulder checked out.”
Kidd and two of the Kings physios walked towards the tunnel and Sit tapped his own team’s doctor on the back, “Serious?”
“Could be. Don’t know until he gets a scan.”
“Ok,” Sit stated as the doctor jogged to join Kidd and the others.
Sit’s players were silent as they watched their leader leave the game. Sit gulped as he thought about what he would do now. The game was tight and he had to choose whether to put Iverson back in. He didn’t have many options with Aaron Karl still weak after recovering from an injury of his own. He didn’t trust Jao Wu enough to step up in the situation. Everyone was looking to their coach to make a choice.
“Ok,” Sit cleared his throat, “Let’s go back out with Andrew, David, Kevin, Ty, Allen. Let’s go out there and stretch this lead. We’ve got to go out and do this! We’ve got to win this game!”
“That injury to Jason Kidd has really hurt this Stealth team as they fallen behind by the biggest margin of the night,” Reggie Miller said, “Steve, what do you think?”
Steve Kerr answered, “Reggie, we all know that Kidd is a leader of this team and with him out and Kevin Durant having a terrible terrible night, it will take a miracle for Seattle to pull off a win.”
“Eight points is the difference here,” Miller stated, “And there’s still a few minutes to go as we’re close to the end of the third.”
“The biggest difference here tonight are the star players. Moses Chara is showing that he is the best player in the world while Kevin Durant seems to have fallen off the face of it,” Kerr laughed, “If Kevin Durant thinks he’s a MVP worthy player then he had better think again after tonight’s game. Unless he pulls off some miracle, he’s been downright terrible tonight.”
Miller agreed, “Durant just has not played with the heart and energy that we are used to seeing. I don’t know what is wrong with this ball club.”
“Our sideline reporter Craig Sager joins us now,” Kerr announced, “What do you have for us Craig?”
The live feed switched to Sager in an ugly pinstriped suit, “Fellas, I just spoke with Sheed who just checked on Seattle Stealth captain Jason Kidd. It looks like Kidd will be taken to hospital for scans of his shoulder. Word is that it wasn’t a dislocated shoulder but there is some kind of shoulder injury. No one wanted to say if he’s going to be fine for Game 5 until after he is out of hospital. Seattle are not out of the woods yet. Back to you guys.”
“Thanks Craig,” Reggie said, “What an ugly suit. Sounds like Seattle’s playoffs have taken their first big roadblock with Kidd going down. What do you think will happen now Steve?”
Kerr predicted, “I think the Kings are going to wrap this one up here tonight. If Jason Kidd is out for the rest of the series, I don’t know what to think. It really depends on how Coach Will Sit plans for his team to adjust to his absence.”
“It’s not going to be easy,” Reggie mumbled.
Kerr exclaimed, “No it won’t.”
Andrew Bogut joined David Lee on the bench. Both players had picked up five fouls in a dismal effort. The Stealth were barely holding on in this game and trailed by double digits for the first time during the evening. There was less than a minute left in the third period and both big men looked up at the scoreboard: 98-87 lead to the Kings. The Stealth were still scoring but just not at a quick enough pace to keep up with the home side. Iverson was keeping Seattle in it as he had scored 35 points in the game so far. He was even beating Chara who was on 28. There was a loud cheer as Chara added another three points to his personal tally, dropping a long range bomb from ‘way downtown’.
Chara ran past the visitor’s bench with his left hand clenched, “COME ON!”
Sheed yelled back, “Get out of here!”
Sit shook his head as Iverson missed a shot at the buzzer. Seattle would head into the final quarter down 101-87. The Stealth gathered around him and listened intently. For the first time of the season, everyone was paying attention to Sit because they knew he was under pressure. And they knew he was not happy with their performance.
“What happened there?” Sit quizzed them rhetorically, “We’re down by 15 now. We were tied 12 minutes ago. One of our team mates and good mates is out there hurting. We owe it to Jason and ourselves to get the job done. We’re not going to do it with offence. We are doing it with defence.”
“Yessir,” Iverson nodded as he chewed on his gum.
“Spit that out,” Sit ordered Iverson.
Sheed hurried over with a plastic bag and Iverson spat out the piece of gum.
Sit continued, “Let’s focus. We’ve got 12 minutes left to give ourselves a good lead in this series. We can do this. We’ve done it before. The only motivation you boys need is that NBA Finals spot. I’d rather go home up by 2 games than being tied. You feeling me?”
Everyone nodded but the response didn’t seem too enthusiastic.
“Let’s go back out there with Rocky, Li, Trevor, Ty, Allen. We can do it guys!”
The five guys returned to the floor. Sit sat down next to Durant on the bench.
“Time to shut down for the night,” Sit said to Durant.
Durant snorted and then said, “they can’t win without me.”
Sit shrugged, “Well, you don’t deserve a chance to change that. I’m sick of your bullshit.”
Durant folded his arms and looked away. He and Sit would not talk for the rest of the night.
The Stealth would go on a scoring run and cut the 15 point lead in half. Ty was around to pick up the slack as he scored 12 fourth quarter points during a Seattle 18-4 run. That brought the Stealth back to trailing by just 7 points at 114-107 with 6 minutes left in the game. The Kings called a time out to talk things over and Sit took the opportunity to make some changes.
“We’re back in this one,” Sit made clear, “Let’s not rush anything. Andrew and David, you’re both back on.”
In the Kings huddle, Chara called on his teammates to give him a little support, “They’re going to be putting more pressure on me. I need you guys to step up.”
Ty returned to the floor and met Chara at half court. He remember the times when his Tar Heels were pitted against Chara’s Blue Devils. All of the epic battles between the two made national headlines. Ty had to pinch himself to know it wasn’t a dream.
“You could never beat me,” Chara said to him, seemingly knowing what was on Ty’s mind, “I was always going easy on your stupid ass.”
Ty ignored him.
“I still remember you crying like a little bitch after your brother died.”
Chara had crossed the line.
“You fucking jerk! Don’t bring my family into this!”
“Your dead family?” Chara laughed.
Ty had to stay calm; there was no way he was going to throw the game. He had to be tough. He wasn’t going to fall to Chara’s insults and jabs in front of Kevin Durant. Ty ignored him and ran towards the ball as the refs called for play to start again.
The Kings fans didn’t have much to cheer about as the Stealth continued to push their team to the brink. A Trevor Ariza dunk had Seattle sitting just 2 points behind the Kings with 3 minutes to go. Enough was enough for Chara as he came out of a timeout to fire in two three pointers. Michael Redd added another one of his own and a Westbrook steal and fastbreak dunk all but sealed the deal for Sacramento. The lead was back to double digits as quickly as the Stealth had come back. Sit would call it a night for the rest of his starters with little more than a minute left on the game clock.
“Good game,” Sit high fived all of his players after sending out his reserves.
Ty took a seat next to David Lee and leaned over to give him a high five, “We will get them in the next one.”
Lee didn’t say anything. The buzzer sounded and the Stealth bench quickly filed out of Arco Arena; happy that they would not be back for the next game. There was a lot of work to do if they wanted to win Game 6 in this building. Sit loosened his tie and collected his thoughts as he prepared for the media barrage he anticipated would result from the benching of Kevin Durant; 4-time NBA scoring champion. Craig Sager had intercepted Chara before the King could get off the court.
“Moses!” Craig was calling out and tugging his jersey, “You had a wonderful game tonight. 40 points and 10 rebounds. You have any comments to make?”
Chara looked down at where Sager’s hand was, “Can you stop holding onto my jersey?”
Sager let go, “Sure.”
Chara thanked him and answered the question, “Look, I proved that I am the best player in the World tonight. I’m the MVP. Lebron James is a hater and a fraud. Ask anyone in here tonight and they know who owns this joint and who owns the league. That’s me. Moses Chara. And I promise Sacramento that I’m going to go and win us an NBA title.”
“Coach Sit, why was Kevin Durant on your bench tonight?”
Sit waited for everyone to stop talking before he answered that question, “Look, no one on this team is more important than the others. Kevin was having a bad night and Allen was having a good one. It’s as simple as that.”
The same reporter spoke up before anyone else could say anything, “So even when you are 2 points down and Allen Iverson is cold, you didn’t think it was a good time to put Durant back in the game?”
“Look,” Sit stated, “Kevin had been out for most of the quarter. He’s already warmed down, I’m not going to put him back in the ball game.”
“How does Kevin feel about this?”
Sit laughed loudly, “Do I look like Kevin to you?”
There was an awkward silence before someone asked another question, “What are your plans for the next game coach?”
“I just want my guys to go out there and defend home court.”
“Any word on Jason Kidd’s status and who would start in his place in the event that he is out injured?”
Sit hadn’t heard a thing, “Look, we don’t know anything and I don’t want to speculate so let’s move onto the next question.”
“Do you feel confident about winning the series?”
“Let’s take it one game at a time,” Sit replied, “I’m confident in my guys to pull out a stop here. I’m confident that we can do it.”
However, as a matter of fact, Sit was not so convinced that his team could win without Jason Kidd.