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.”