You better be ready. That is the job of every player sitting at the end of an NBA bench.
With everything going sideways against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center Wednesday and with another game in less than 24 hours, coach Dave Joerger waved his white flag early and his second and third-teamers almost pulled off a miracle.
Led by a group that included Yogi Ferrell, Frank Mason, Ben McLemore, Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere, the Kings put on a show late, erasing a huge deficit to make things extremely uncomfortable for the Clippers.
"We ran it back with our group from down 27 to three," Joerger told reporters following the loss. "We got 11 stops in a row. We got in the paint. We played with a lot more energy."
Trailing by 24 with 8:54 remaining in the fourth, Joerger pulled his last two starters. The Clippers managed to push the lead to 27 with a Lou Williams 3-pointer at the 8:14 mark and then it was all Kings.
Seldom-used wing Ben McLemore caught fire, hitting 4-for-6 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range for 11 points in the final nine minutes of the game.
"He made some shots and put his body on guys," Joerger said. "He's a pro."
McLemore wasn't the only player to make an impact. Ferrell, Mason and Giles all scored six points in the fourth as the Kings turned up the intensity. Over a seven-minute stretch, the Kings went on a 24-1 run against a solid veteran club.
Doc Rivers had no choice but to put his starters back in as the Kings' reserves made it a game.
"Our second unit came out and they played with a lot of energy," De'Aaron Fox told the media. "All of those guys are ready for the opportunity and they got it today. Everybody was ready."
With 1:02 remaining, Mason drilled a 3-pointer to make it a 121-118 game, but the Kings couldn't get a stop down the stretch and Los Angeles scored the final six points for a 127-118 win.
"We're happy for that group," Joerger said. "They were ready for their opportunity and came in and played well."
The starters didn't draw the same praise from the Kings' head coach. Fox posted a solid 19-point, nine-rebound, six-assist performance. The other four starters finished in double-figures, but it wasn't a pretty night for the first-teamers.
Buddy Hield had a rare off-night, shooting just 4-of-18 from the field and missing all six 3-point attempts on the night. It was the second time this season the Clippers held Hield without a long-range make. The Kings' leading scorer has hit at least one 3-ball in every other game this season.
The Kings don't have long to think about the loss. They flew following the game and will face the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center. This is the life of an NBA player. You have to stay ready and have a very short memory, because the schedule stops for no team.