Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on March 15, 2012
The Sacramento Kings ran out of gas as they fell to the Detroit Pistons 124-112 Wednesday night at Power Balance Pavilion.
The Kings suffered another loss on the court, losing guard Tyreke Evans to an ankle sprain. Evans came down awkwardly on his ankle after making a layup late in the game. X-rays came up negative and Evans is listed day-to-day.
Following two losses in a row, struggling on both sides of the floor, the Kings came out with an intensity that allowed them to jump out to a big lead against the Pistons.
Forward Jason Thompson played great for the Kings, scoring 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds off the glass.
“Jason is the perfect guy for what we are doing,” coach Keith Smart said after the game. “He just goes out and works, and that’s what a power forward needs to do. Just go out and work and get your points by rebounding and running the floor, and that’s what he’s doing.”
Evans opened up the game aggressively, scoring six points in the first three minutes. His effort translated to points and a quick-paced game filled with high energy from the rest of the Kings.
Unlike the previous two losses, Sacramento was moving the ball well, finishing with nine assists in the first quarter and leading 32-25. Tuesday night, the Kings finished with just 11 assists total against the Warriors.
Sacramento continued its strong execution in the second quarter, building their lead up to 16 points at one point. But following a 9-0 run by the Pistons, Sacramento only had a 48-41 lead with a little over four minutes before halftime.
Detroit finished those four minutes strong, bringing the Kings lead to just one heading into the locker room.
Much like Tuesday night, the game got out of hand in the third quarter, with the Pistons able to score however they wished on the offensive side of the floor. The porous Kings defense gave up 40 points to Detroit in the third quarter alone.
Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas may have not been in the league too long but he knows that it's difficult to win games in the NBA while giving up so many points in one quarter.
"That third quarter opened it up, they had 40 points in that third quarter," Thomas said. "You're not going to win a game if you give up 40 points in a quarter."
The Pistons show 75 percent from the field and knocked down five three-pointers in the third quarter. Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey made four of those and finished 4-of-6 from three-point range and with a game-high 35 points and six assists. In all, Detroit’s offense was hitting on all cylinders.
“These guys came out and played well, shot well, turned the corner,” Smart said of the Pistons offense. “They come off real fast, they force you to over-help and they don’t waste much time to shoot the shots that they shot.”
With the game already out of hand, the Kings were unable to mount a comeback, eventually falling by a final score of 124-112. The 124 points given up to the Pistons were by far the most points Detroit has scored this season, as they were averaging just 89 points per game.
As bad as the loss was, Smart saw improvement in his team.
“I thought we made a step,” Smart said. “As bad as it is, there were a lot of things we did that were OK in this game.”
The players know it was a winnable game but remain optimistic that they will continue to grow together and get this team going in the right direction.
“This is one of the games we should have had,” Kings forward Thompson said. “We should have had one last night and should have had one tonight, but just gotta look at this and look at the film and get better.”
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on March 14, 2012
The Sacramento Kings lacked the energy necessary to win the game once again, as they fell to their Northern California rival Golden State Warriors 115-89 Tuesday night at Power Balance Pavilion.
The Kings were unable to capitalize on the Warriors’ forced improvisation with their rotation following a trade made just before the game.
The Warriors decided to make a splash before the trade deadline by swapping out guard Monta Ellis, former first-overall pick Kwame Brown and second-year forward Ekpe Udoh in a five-player trade. In return from the Milwaukee Bucks: the injured Andrew Bogut and a disgruntled Stephen Jackson. Ellis was the Warriors’ leading scorer this season with 21.9 points and 6.0 assists per game. s coach Mark Jackson to insert rookie guard Klay Thompson into the starting lineup, alongside veteran Nate Robinson, who was playing for the injured Stephen Curry.
Golden State’s new rotation took advantage of the increased minutes on the floor by executing well on the offensive side of the floor while shooting 12-24 from the three-point line as well as 48 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, the Kings appeared as if they took the Warriors’ new rotation lightly, as they never seemed to have the energy needed for the game.
“Things that were taking place with their team, that’s all the whole chatter was in the locker room, and things just got crossed up from there. We weren’t the same team,” Kings coach Keith Smart said. “Somewhere in there, the mindset wasn’t there.”
Veteran big man Chuck Hayes saw the lack of effort and knows that you can’t win without the energy.
“Obviously we was more in tune to what they had going on in their locker room than we did ours,” Hayes said. “We deserved it. We deserved to get our butts kicked.”
The trade talk didn’t seem to affect Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who started off strong with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting to lead the Kings in the first quarter, but the Kings still trailed.
DeMarcus Cousins struggled much of the first quarter and didn’t score until almost eight minutes into the game with an emphatic slam dunk.
From there, Cousins began to carry the Kings on his back in the second quarter. With the rest of the team struggling for the most part, Cousins made his next three field goal attempts, including a dunk over Warriors forward Dominic McGuire after a quick spin move around David Lee. Cousins also made 5-of-6 free throws in the second quarter, scoring 10 of the team’s 25 points in the second. Cousins finished with a team-high 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Even with Cousins’ strong play in the second quarter, the Kings still found themselves down 49-54 heading into halftime.
The Warriors were able to increase that lead, dominating the third quarter. Every time the Kings were able to cut into the lead, the Warriors made a run of their own.
Kings rookie Isaiah Thomas brought the deficit to just four at 73-77, but Warriors guard Brandon Rush extended it back to 11 with two three-point shots late in the third quarter.
From there, the Warriors pulled away from the Kings with a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, causing Kings players to all but quit for the night.
Golden State outscored the Kings 31-16 in the final quarter for their 115-89 rout on a night they saw two of their key pieces traded away.
The young Kings squad seems to have a recurring problem of providing the energy needed to beat big teams but coming out flat against others, a problem Smart acknowledges.
“They got to grow up from that,” Smart said after the game. “They’re grown men when we play highlight teams, but for whatever reason, they can’t understand that these teams are just as important as highlight teams.”
But it’s not just Smart who recognizes the problem.
“We have to approach every game the same way,” Thomas said in the locker room. “Whether it’s the worst team in the NBA or the best team in the NBA, we have to approach it the same way. We have to succeed as a team and fail as a team.”