by Charlie O. Mallonee
SACRAMENTO–The Sacramento Kings four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on Saturday as they lost to the Charlotte Hornets 99-85. The Buzz City team was in desperate need of a win to stop a five-game losing slide that had them falling farther away from the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Kings (25-34) looked sluggish early on in the game which is to be expected. After experiencing the huge high of the win over Denver on Thursday without DeMarcus Cousins on the roster, the team was really set up to have a let down. Facing a Hornets (25-33) team that has been playing poorly, it was really easy for the young team not to come in pumped up and ready to conquer.
Even after a less than spectacular first half the Kings trailed by just 11 at halftime. It was the opening 4:33 of the third quarter that did Sacramento in and led them to a loss. The Kings did not score until Ben McLemore hit a 3-point bucket at the 7:27 mark but by then the Hornets had opened up a 23-point lead. Charlotte would continue to ride that big lead for the remainder of the contest.
This is going to be the reality of watching this young team over the final 23 games of the season. They will at times look brilliant, full of energy and unstoppable. At other times, they are going to look tired, confused and inept. That is just the reality of having a young roster filled in with seasoned veterans. Sometimes it will be fun and sometimes it won’t.
Kings head coach Dave Joerger on the game
“Guys battled. I think we spend a lot of emotion as talked about in pregame of the game the other night. Tonight the was a situation where you had a team that is a veteran team, a very physical team. They pushed us around the court most of the night with their size and their experience at all positions. I’m not talking about just in the middle, we were okay in the middle. But twos, threes and fours – they took us out of some stuff. We didn’t do a great job finishing at the rim and in the paint. We were 15-for-34 in the paint and had a tough night shooting. So hats off to them. They’re a good team, and they’ve got a chance to get in the playoffs too.”
- Ben McLemore was the Kings leading scorer with 18 points. Ben Mac had a slow start and found his rhythm when he drove the baseline for a slam. It seamed to jolt him alive and he finished shooting 7-for-15
- Rookie Buddy Hield had a solid game coming off the bench to score 15 points while shooting 5-for-10 from the field in his 26-minutes of playing time
- Anthony Tolliver made an impact early in the game especially with the 3-ball. Tolliver finished with 11 points going 3-for-6 from 3-point land
- Tyreke Evans made his presence known with 11 points, five assists and five rebounds in 22 minutes on the floor
- Darren Collison had a solid game at the point scoring 10 points while dishing out five assists
- Skal Labissiere had a very nice game scoring eight points and grabbing 13 rebounds (3 offensive). Labissiere is looking very comfortable on the floor
- Willie Cauley-Stein had a tough game scoring just two points and grabbing only two rebounds
- Big Frank Kaminsky was the man for Charlotte. He scored a game-high 23 points shooting 5-for-9 from behind the 3-point line. Kaminsky also hauled in 13 rebounds for a double-double game
- Forward Marvin Williams added 16 points while Nicholas Batum put up 15 points despite shooting just 4-for-17 from the floor
- Kemba Walker had a very quiet game scoring just 12 points while distributing six assists
- Former King Marco Belinelli scored 13 points shooting 4-for-7 including two 3-point baskets
The Kings will be back in action Monday when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden 1 Center. The Kings are 2-0 versus the T-Wolves this season.
The Hornets have to go back to work on Sunday night in Los Angeles when they will play the Clippers at the Staples Center.
A Malachi Richardson Medical Update
The Kings rookie shooting guard who suffered a partial tear of the right hamstring continues to rehab the injury. There is still no date for his return to action but there is no need for surgery which is good news for the player and the team.