What do you expect to happen when you don’t play a lick of defense and shoot 41.7 percent? The Sacramento Kings asked that question Sunday night and found the answer slightly unappealing. A day after taking the powerful Los Angeles Clippers to the brink of defeat, the Kings backed up that effort with a complete embarrassment against the far less talented Los Angeles Lakers. There were very few redeeming qualities in this game. The Kings stunk from the end of the first quarter to the finish, and the Lakers happily made them pay for it, skating to an easy 100-86 victory.
MATADOR DEFENSE – It was a recipe for disaster from the tip. The Kings have shown this season that they struggle to defend the perimeter, while the Lakers live and die from long range. Nine Lakers saw floor time and seven knocked down three-pointers. When the Kings finally decided to close out, Los Angeles simply dribbled around them and got whatever they wanted at the rim. Sacramento was outworked on possession after possession to the point that it became embarrassing. You hate to question effort, but the Lakers penetrated the Kings defense so easily that you couldn’t help becoming frustrated at the performance.
THIRD QUARTER BLUES – Over the past week, the Kings have finally come out of halftimes with a renewed energy and solid gameplan. Unfortunately, even the best gameplans rely on some form of shot-making, and on Sunday, Sacramento had absolutely nothing going on in the third quarter. Over the final 10:15 of the third quarter, the Kings scored six points. Six. Isaiah Thomas (30 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-11 FG, 4 AST, 2 TO, 3 REB) didn’t deliver his usual offensive spark, DeMarcus Cousins (31 MIN, 17 PTS, 6-14 FG, 8 REB, 7 AST, 3 TO) was harassed into some tough shots down low, and every shooter the Kings trotted to the floor just could not find the basket. A two-point deficit turned to 12, and Sacramento’s chances at victory were put to bed. Tough to watch.
COUSINS TUSSLES – DeMarcus Cousins picked up his fourth technical of the season, tying him for the league lead. After Jordan Farmar stripped Ben McLemore to create a loose ball, Cousins followed the ball and gave Farmar a minor push in the back before trying to help him up. Farmar overreacted, and Shawne Williams stuck his nose where it didn’t belong, causing Cousins to lose his cool. It was a minor dust-up, but the altercation combined with a brutal night for the Kings seemed to wear down Cousins late. He started looking for calls and was visibly frustrated. Through it all, DMC just seems much better tempered than last year. You could nitpick and find fault with him Sunday, but to think back a year, the results would have been much more negative.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Greivis Vasquez (33 MIN, 20 PTS, 9-18 FG, 7 AST, 2 TO, 3 REB) had a sizzling first quarter, at one point scoring eight straight Kings points on four consecutive possessions. Vasquez has shown solid scoring skills this year, and there may be times when he should look for his own offense a little more … Ben McLemore (26 MIN, 15 PTS, 5-14 FG, 3-6 3FG, 2 TO) hit some shots late and finished some pretty dunks early, but in between he was inconsistent with his shot and didn’t make the best decisions on when to pull the trigger … The Kings made just 8-of-15 free throws.