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.