The unexpected rainfall inside the Sacramento Kings’ new $40-million arena didn’t do much to end California’s three-year drought, and it only added to the victory drought of the Kings.
The Kings, 15-40 in their fourth season in Sacramento, were leading the Philadelphia 76ers by 24 points in the third quarter of their National Basketball Assn. game Wednesday night when a light drizzle outside the Arco Arena turned into a heavy downpour.
A heavy rain in Sacramento seems to occur about as frequently as the Kings get that kind of lead over a weak opponent, let alone a playoff-bound team such as the 76ers, who left Sacramento with a 31-24 record.
But the 76ers suddenly sprang to life with a 21-4 run just as the roof sprang a leak.
The Kings entered the fourth quarter clinging to a 94-91 lead with 9:39 left, but maintenance men weren’t as successful with the roof.
As the flow of water increased over the top of the key at the 76ers’ end of the court, lead official Hue Hollins called what turned out to be a 41-minute delay in the game.
Millionaire building developer Gregg Lukenbill, principal owner of the Kings and their new arena, inched his way out on an 18-inch-wide interior beam 83 feet above the playing floor with a Kings banner, which he fashioned into a makeshift trough that stopped the rain.
But after the delay, the Kings couldn’t stop former teammate Derek Smith. Smith, picked up last month by the 76ers, scored five quick points to put the 76ers ahead and sparked their final surge with 12 fourth-quarter points in a 114-111 victory.
“To tell you the truth, I kind of liked the break,” Smith said. “I was very tired before the break and I really needed the rest.”
Arco Arena manager Greg Van Dusen said the leaky roof was repaired Thursday and that he expects no problems for the Kings’ game Sunday against the Golden State Warriors.