Photo by David Alvarez
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Jan. 27, 2013
The Sacramento Kings remain winless since Monday when reports came out that the Sacramento Kings owners have entered a “binding agreement” with an equity group from Seattle that would send the team up to the Pacific Northwest.
Ironically, the Kings fell to Seattle’s former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-95 at Sleep Train Arena to extend their losing streak to three games.
Players were reportedly distracted by the news on Monday as they attempted to practice, and that distraction may have carried over into the games this week.
Kings forward Jason Thompson has been with the team for five seasons now and this isn’t the first time he’s dealt with possible relocation, though it is the first time he’s seen the team actually sold. Thompson does admit that the Maloofs' business can be distracting at times.
“It is tough, every time you might have an appearance, it’s tough when people are always asking you, thinking that we are the reason and we want to move,” Thompson said. “Obviously we want to stay here and we love this city, it’s a tough city. Every year I’ve been here they’ve talked about us moving, from Anaheim to Virginia Beach.”
Kings head coach Keith Smart maintains that the losses are not a result of the team’s sale being a distraction, but merely a result of inconsistent play from his young team. Much of the Kings’ struggles this year have stemmed from the inability to maintain the same kind of ball movement and energy throughout a game.
“I thought we played a really good half of basketball the first half, except about three minutes of the first half,” Smart said following the game. “Just closing the quarter, it came down to the tail-end of each quarter, we didn’t close those the right way and you can’t make those mistakes. But I thought our guys did a good job but obviously came out very, very flat and turnover prone in the third quarter, and that’s where the game made a big turn in the third quarter.”
The Kings got off to a quick 23-9 lead against the Thunder, but then struggled in the third quarter as the game quickly got out of hand and the Thunder ran away with the win.
“We had so many miscues in that third quarter to start the third quarter,” Smart said. “I think if we could have capitalized on a couple of those points, I mean, you’re down seven points and you don’t score on six positions and they come down and score, now you have a 14-point lead, you have a 16-point lead. Any really good team can capitalize really quickly.”
Inconsistent play has been a problem for the Kings all year as they seem to always have at least one quarter in which they struggle and get outplayed. Against Phoenix on Wednesday it was the fourth quarter, getting outscored 32-19; against New Orleans, on the day the team found out about the sale, the Kings were outscored 64-39 in the first half.
Coming out flat forces the team to come from behind and puts a lot of pressure on a young team like the Kings.
Veteran forward John Salmons believes much of the problem with the team is they lose confidence when the opposing team makes a big run.
“I thought we went off on our own, and that’s what happens when you play these good teams. They go on a run and then I feel like we panic as a group and everyone tries to do it individually. Against a good team, a championship caliber team, it’s not going to work.”
Whether it is the distraction of the recent sale of the team or the team is just playing inconsistently, the team will need to get back on track as they head out on a tough six-game road trip starting with Denver on Saturday night.
Smart is not worried about his team’s mentality and the idea of this losing streak spiraling out of control with the road trip.
“You have to play every game one at a time first,” Smart said. “You can’t go into the whole road trip. You’ve got to go play some tough places and some tough travel venues, but you’ve got to play the game. You can’t escape it, you’ve got to play it. You never know what could happen, something can come together and we win a couple out there on the road, you can bounce back pretty quickly.”
Photo by Darren Hall
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Jan. 14, 2013
The Sacramento Kings took the court once again as their future in the state’s capital remains uncertain as prospective buyers continue to emerge.
With the team’s future still uncertain, the team’s identity on the hardwood has also remained inconsistent. They fell 128-99 to the NBA Champion Miami Heat on Saturday night.
The team’s frustration continues to build while the losses pile up, especially after four straight losses that include three 20-plus point losses.
“It shouldn’t matter what the team is, we should have an identity on the team like every other team has,” Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins said after the game. “Our problem is we switch up how we play and we can’t play that way.
“It is frustrating,” Cousin continued. “I know the way we can play and we aren’t playing that way.”
Sacramento struggled to find the correct ball movement once again against LeBron James and the Heat. They turned the ball over 17 times. The Kings currently hold a 1.5 assists-to-turnovers ratio, the sixth worst in the NBA.
Meanwhile, the Kings are only averaging 14.5 turnovers per game, ranking them in the better half of the league, meaning that it is their lack of assists that is causing them to struggle. The Kings are averaging just 19.8 assists per game, with forward John Salmons leading the team with just 3.3 assists per game.
Though the Kings were able to tally 23 assists in their contest on Saturday night, many of them occurred later in the game when the team found point guard Isaiah Thomas, who kept knocking down the shots en route to his career-high 34 points.
“My teammates found me when I was open and I knocked down the shots,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t nothing that I was trying to do, my teammates found me and I made the shots.”
Sacramento attempted to move the ball around early, but assist attempts turned into turnovers much like they have for most this young season. Head coach Keith Smart knows that his team needs to take better care of the ball if they want to accumulate more wins this season.
“[They] had 22 points off of turnovers in the first half,” Smart said. “The game is set and every possession for you is critical and we didn’t have what we needed and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t have that with a nice crowd here tonight, so I was embarrassed for our fans.”
Thomas knows that the Kings struggled in the beginning and got out of their own game plan that they strived to play after quickly falling behind.
“The way they played they kind of made us play at a tempo where we were out of control,” Thomas said. “We did miss about four or five layups in that first quarter, but other than that we had way too many turnovers and we were kind of playing to their tempo, which we didn’t want to do.
“Once we turned the ball over they got out in transition and they got easy baskets. It’s hard to come back from the deficit that we put ourselves in, especially against a championship caliber team.”
Much of the problem with the Kings’ lack of an identity is their lack of chemistry on the court due to injuries and what seems to be an ever-changing player rotation. Players with strong roles on the team such as Tyreke Evans have missed significant time this season, causing Smart to go to an impromptu lineup.
These injuries have forced the team to learn each other's strengths on the go and this has shown growing pains, even while the team tries to assimilate players back into the lineup.
“We are not clicking because our chemistry is not right, it’s being shifted,” Smart said. “We are incorporating guys back into a fold. And that happens. That happens on a team when you try and get guys back into it again and they’re not 100 percent yet and you try and get things moved around.”
The team is capable of accumulating the assists, as they have done so on occasions this year. It’s just a matter of finding that identity and keeping it consistent.
The Kings will have to find a way to get the ball movement going if they want to increase their winning through the second half of the season.