Fast Start Wasted As Kings Go Dumb Against Rockets


Lots of head scratching, face palming, cursing…just another Kings game. Sacramento continues to find heart-wrenching ways to lose games, and this one was of the “pisses-you-off” variety. Where, oh where, did the Kings place their brains? After a torrid start — a 24-8 lead thanks to fastbreak dominance — the Kings fell apart. The lead slowly melted away and despite Sacramento’s best efforts to keep Houston at bay, the cushion completely evaporated. Houston pulled even after regulation and overtook Sacramento in overtime, escaping with a 113-106 win.

BASKETBALL IQ — Enough already. It’s always a damn learning process, right? Well, eventually, this team will have to graduate to the big boys league. I’m not the biggest fan of the dump down to DeMarcus Cousins (38 PTS, 15-26 FG, 14 REB, 2 AST, 5 TO, 2 STL), but compared to the garbage the Kings flung in overtime, that seemed like a darn good option, especially considering the type of game DMC was having. But either way, run a pick-and-roll with the guy and dare Houston to leave someone. How about Terrence Williams (17 MIN, 10 PTS, 4-7 FG, 3 REB, 2 STL) going under a soft screen on back-to-back possessions, leaving the lead-footed Chuck Hayes to guard a point guard? Or fouling a ball-handler down by three points with a five-second differential on the clocks? Is it a matter of Keith Smart not communicating to these guys or do they just make the mental mistakes anyway? Something has got to give here.

CHUCK, CHUCK, CHUCK — OK, I’m ready to go in. I’m not a Chuck Hayes (28 MIN, 3 PTS, 1-4 FG, 8 REB, 3 TO) fan. The guy is just so darn slow. As a straight up, man-to-man post defender, sure, Chuck handles his business. Unfortunately, the game is made up of much more than that. Hayes’ heavy feet and lack of height enable opponents to overpower him in the paint. On the offensive end, he just doesn’t fit in with the Kings uptempo style. In a recent interview, it was funny to hear Chuck say “I’m not afraid to make a turnover” when describing his passing. Yeah, that can be a problem. And a guy who attempts nothing outside of 8-feet shooting 44 percent is embarrassing. Particularly annoying plays against Houston included tipping up a rebound that fell right in his lap and missing a three-foot push shot that led to a Cousins loose ball foul. A team-worst “-12” plus/minus rating, for those that like that stat. Step your game up, Chuck.

DMC BEAST MODE — On the positive side, what an animal DeMarcus Cousins was against the Rockets. We hear it a lot — Webber-like hands. DMC gobbled up everything within arm’s reach against Houston, from wayward passes to high rebounds. And offensively, Cousins had it working, scoring a career high 38 points. Around the basket, DMC was not going to be stopped, and he was going against two solid vets in Dalembert and Camby. It really was a dominating performance, and it makes even tougher to accept the Kings offensive breakdown in the late stages of the game. Work Cousins into the gameplan. The team needs to learn how to run a proper pick-and-roll; Cousins could become deadly in that set.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — Aside from his defensive misplays, Terrence Williams really showed well. He had his perimeter game working, knocking down some timely long balls. T-Will managed to stay within himself for the most part. Hopefully he cleans up those defensive lapses … Isaiah Thomas (48 MIN, 8 PTS, 3-13 FG, 8 REB, 6 AST, 1 TO) did not put his stamp on this one. Never established his outside game and found a wall of defenders on his penetrations … Marcus Thornton (47 MIN, 27 PTS, 9-22 FG, 3 REB, 2 STL) started slow, but as he has been doing this year, he got himself involved via the offensive glass. It was a shame his three-pointer at the end of regulation missed; it was a clean look … The Kings bench had an abysmal three-minute stretch in the first half and Cisco, Salmons and Outlaw never saw the court again. Jimmer only returned for the final 21 seconds of the game.