Homemade recipe for disaster bites Kings again in loss to Warriors

Homemade recipe for disaster bites Kings again in loss to Warriors

SACRAMENTO -- How to lose a game in seven minutes or less. Step 1: Miss shots. Step 2: Argue with officials. Step 3: Allow your opponent to score easy buckets in transition while you are still arguing about your missed shot.

The Sacramento Kings played a really solid first half Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors, leading by as many as 16 points.

And then they fell apart in the first seven minutes coming out of the break. They never recovered from their third quarter woes and fell to the best team in the Western Conference by a final of 117-106.

“They’re not difficult to guard in transition if you communicate and you’re focused and you’re not arguing at the referees after turnovers and missed shots,” Garrett Temple told media members following the Kings’ third straight loss.

Golden State trailed by seven at the half, but just after the midway point of the third, they had already wiped out the Kings lead and held a 10-point advantage.

“We’re losing them ourselves,” veteran point guard Ty Lawson said. “Just from little things like arguing with the refs and stuff like that. And they’re running out and getting dunks and layups.”

This is a recipe for disaster that the Kings have become experts at creating. They play well for stretches and then have momentary lapses that lead to massive deficits. Against a team like the Warriors, there is no margin for error, let alone room for a 39-13 run between the late second quarter and the mid-third quarter.

“We talk about it all the time,” Temple added. “The officials seemingly aren’t on anyone’s side at the end of the day. Both teams always argue with the officials, but, especially in that third quarter, we seemed to let it get to us even more than usual. They’re a different team on the break. They have three dead-eye shooters and a power forward that can pick people apart.”

The Warriors finished the night with a 28-3 advantage on the break. Once they turned the game into a track meet, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant started knocking down 3-balls and the game got out of hand.

“I think we did everything right in the beginning,” DeMarcus Cousins said of Sacramento’s fast start. “As usual, we always have that one quarter or that one little stretch where we have bad basketball. It kind of comes back to bite us in the end.”

Cousins struggled to find his game, finishing with 17 points on 4-of-11 shooting. He turned the ball over seven times, including three fumbles in the third as the game spun out of control. Cousins has played big minutes all season long and carrying more weight than most.

“He’s exhausted,” head coach Dave Joerger said following the game. “He’s been carrying the torch for a long time. It seems perhaps maybe longer than just this year. Is there a night off coming or something? He had a tough night. At the same time, I don’t think Golden State gets enough credit for their defense.”

Sacramento has now lost three straight and four of the last five. With the Detroit Pistons coming through town on Tuesday night, sitting the team's best player seems like a stretch.

The Kings needs a win to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race. They also need a victory to avoid a complete meltdown, which has happened more than once for this team over the last few seasons.

Rudy Gay had another solid performance since returning from injury. The 30-year-old forward scored 15 of his 23 points in the first quarter as the Kings built their early lead.

Joerger went with a new starting group, giving Garrett Temple and Anthony Tolliver a look alongside Cousins, Gay and Darren Collison. Both had solid performances.

Tolliver dropped in 16 points on 3-of-4 shooting from long range and Temple finished with 14 points in 42 minutes of action while limiting Klay Thompson to 8-of-19 shooting.

The Kings have dropped the first three games of their season-long seven game homestand. They draw the Pistons on Tuesday, before facing the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings showed their age Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They couldn’t buy a basket early. They could do no wrong in the second and third quarters. And when the chips were down, they couldn’t stop a charging Utah Jazz team from pulling away for the 112-82 blowout.

Utah led by as many as 20 in the first quarter and it looked like it was going to be a long night. The Kings shot just 31.6 percent in the game’s first 12 minutes and they allowed the Jazz to knock down 5-of-11 3-pointers early.

“We started off slow and in a hole and tried to come back,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to 24 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and then Ben McLemore happened. The fourth-year guard went off for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the second as the Kings cut Utah’s lead to just seven at the intermission.

“It’s nice to see him back in there and getting rhythm and feeling good about himself,” Dave Joerger said of McLemore. “He is able at his size to get off of people that are holding. With his athleticism, he can be an effective cutter and he can be an effective pin down player.”

The 24-year-old wing finished the night with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, but he was one of just three Kings players to notch double-figure scoring as the ball movement dried up for long stretches.

Utah made adjustments in the second half to slow McLemore and the Kings did a poor job of responding. They over dribbled the ball, leading to just 14 assists on the night.

The Jazz on the other hand looked like a finely oiled machine. With big man Rudy Gobert anchoring the post, they made cuts at the rim and found open shooters all around the perimeter.  

“They hit shots, a lot of shots, a lot of threes,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “That breaks the game wide open when you’re hitting threes and a lot of stuff is going in.”

Sharpshooter Rodney Hood dropped in 5-of-5 from long range, scoring 18 points in just 24 minutes of play. Gordon Hayward knocked down 3-of-5 from deep for a team-high 20 points. Overall, Utah outscored the Kings 39-6 from 3-point range.

Despite the rough start and the barrage of 3-point makes by the Jazz, Sacramento cut Utah’s lead to just two midway through the third quarter. And then the playoff bound Jazz dropped a 52-24 run on Sacramento to finish the night off.

Joerger allowed his core of young players plenty of time on the floor. Skal Labissiere played a team-high 33 minutes in the loss, coming away with nine points and seven rebounds.  

“I’m definitely learning a lot,” Labissiere said. “It’s the best way to learn to be out there against guys like that. Whenever I’m out there, I’m always learning something. I just try to give my best.”

Rookie Georgios Papagiannis added eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes and Buddy Hield struggled for one of the few times in a Kings uniform, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

It’s a process. With the playoff chatter over and done with, the Kings are bound to have a few more night’s like this in the final seven games of the season as they transition to a full youth movement.

 

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- After winning two straight, the Sacramento Kings came out flat and the Utah Jazz made them pay. The Jazz quieted the crowd early, pushing their lead to 24 points in the second quarter, but the Kings bounced back to make it a game. In the end, Utah had too much firepower, coming away with the 112-82 victory.

All-Star Gordon Hayward used his height advantage at the wing to punish the Kings. Hayward scored 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting and added seven rebounds in the win.

Rudy Gobert pounded the Kings in the paint, finishing the night with 16 points and 15 rebounds.  

Rodney Hood knocked down 5-for-5 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points. Shelvin Mack shot 5-of-8 from the field for 14 points and Joe Ingles finished with 12 points and five assists off Quin Snyder’s bench.

There is no quit in Ben McLemore. The fourth-year guard has an uncertain in Sacramento after this season, so he made sure to put on a show for anyone who might be interested in his services. McLemore dropped in 17 of his 22 points in a wild first half run that got Sacramento back into the game.

Darren Collison was one of the few Kings to find success early as the Jazz built their big lead. The veteran point  guard finished the night with 12 points and one assist.

Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t back down from Gobert. The second-year 7-footer managed to score seven points and grab a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.

Ty Lawson came off Dave Joerger’s bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists. Skal Labissiere shook of a slow start to score nine points and grab seven rebounds, while rookie Georgios Papagiannis chipped in eight points.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
McLemore caught fire. He singlehandedly stopped the Kings from getting blown out in the first half with his 7-of-8 shooting performance before the intermission.

TURNING POINT:
Sacramento managed to make it a game in the third quarter, clawing all the way back to within one point. The Jazz responded to take a 78-67 lead into the fourth and then put the Kings away.

INJURY UPDATE:
Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos sat for scheduled rest. Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings travel to New Orleans where they’ll face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday evening. They’ll fly to Minnesota following the game to play the Timberwolves as part of a back-to-back.