by Charlie O. Mallonee
Opposing teams have figured out how to defeat the Sacramento Kings. First, you have to start fast because the Kings are slow to start playing defense. Second, shoot the 3-ball because the Sacramento perimeter defense is non-existent.
The Brooklyn Nets came out fast in the first quarter on Friday night against the Kings. The Nets put up 33 points in the first period. In fact, the Nets scored at least 30 points in three of the four quarters in the game. This scoring barrage was from a team that averages just 95 points per game.
The Nets also came prepared to shoot from long distance. Brooklyn connected on 18 of 28 (64.3-percent) 3-point attempts versus the Kings. Bojan Bogdanovic hit on 7-0f-9 3-point shots while Joe Johnson went 5-for-7 from downtown. Donald Sloan shot 4-for-5 from long range.
Brooklyn (13-38) – who had lost five consecutive games – shot 55.8-percent (48-for-86) from the field. Sacramento (21-29) never found its defensive footing in the contest.
George Karl described his team as having a “shootout mentality” rather than a defensive mentality. Karl went on to add that things felt “very empty” after the game.
The fact is the Kings can score enough points to win but they cannot stop enough points to keep from losing.
Sacramento has now lost six of their last seven games. This game versus the Nets was supposed to be one of the most winnable contests on this four game road trip that includes games in Boston and Cleveland before the All-Star break.
It is very apparent that something has to change for the Kings and it has to happen quickly.
DeMarcus Cousins was very cryptic after the game saying his team has a “big issue” to deal with internally. He was clear that the issue went beyond energy and effort.
Even with the loss, the Kings are just three games out of the number eight spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The potential of the playoffs may just be an afterthought if the Kings cannot find solutions to whatever is ailing them in the locker room and on the court.
Darren Collison led the Kings in scoring by putting up 25 points in 25 minutes of playing time off the bench. Collison went 7-for-9 from the floor including two 3-point baskets. He was also an impressive 9-for-9 from the free throw line.
DeMarcus Cousins posted a triple-double against the Nets. Cousins scored 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in the game. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Rajon Rondo had a double-double game as he scored 15 points and distributed 15 assists. Rondo had three steals and turned the ball over just two times.
Willie Cauley-Stein added 16 points, Marco Belinelli 13, Caron Butler 8 and Omri Casspi 7.
Rudy Gay scored just two points in the game. Gay went down early in first quarter with a twisted ankle. Karl had no update on Gay’s condition after the game.
Sacramento shot 50.6-percent (45-for-89) from the floor hitting on 8 of 26 3-point shots. The Kings shot 21-for-22 from the foul line. They had 30 assists and just 11 turnovers.
All of these numbers support the premise that the Kings score enough to win. They just cannot keep the other team from scoring more.
Joe Johnson scored a season-high 27 points to lead the Nets scoring attack. Johnson shot 11-for-16 from the floor including 5-for-7 from downtown. Johnson did not make one trip to the free throw line in the game.
Center Brook Lopez posted 26 points in the game. Lopez made it a double-double game by hauling in 12 rebounds.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored a season-high 23 points against the Kings. He shot 8-for-10 from the field and 7-for-9 from long range. Bogdanovic also did not make a trip to the charity stripe in the contest.
Donald Sloan had a season-high 17 points versus the Kings. A team cannot allow that many season high scoring performances from the opposition and expect to win.
The Kings will return to action on Sunday with an early game in Boston. The Celtics (30-22) beat the Cavs 104-103 in Cleveland on Friday evening. The Kings – Celtics game will tip-off at 10:00 AM Pacific Time.
The Nets play the second game of a back-to-back against the Sixers in Philadelphia on Saturday.