Kings Can’t Climb Out Of Early Hole In NOLA


Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

On a day honoring Martin Luther King Jr., the Kings appeared ready to take the holiday off. With fans in Sacramento searching for a distraction from the recent relocation news, the Kings provided nothing but embarrassment in the first half. No defensive effort and lousy offense put the Kings in a 27-point first half hole. The team decided at halftime to actually play in the second half, but a spirited rally fell short, as the New Orleans Hornets took a 114-105 victory.

BLAME THE MALOOFS? — Could the news of the Kings sale to Seattle have affected the players on the court Monday? Don’t count on it. While some players certainly have an affinity for Sacramento, it’s hard to say any would be too broken up about relocating. And when the ball is tipped, the focus is on basketball, not on the business. More than likely, the Kings awful start was due to it being a road game at a wacky time. That, and the fact that Sacramento just played like garbage. As Bobby Jackson put it at halftime, the Kings played with no heart, no desire to actually be there.

SACRAMENTO DONE IN BY ITS OWN — In a cruel twist of fate, a Sacramento native helped bury the Kings on the day the team’s sale was announced. Ryan Anderson, the Oak Ridge High School product, was unstoppable. Anderson hit a couple contested, jaw-dropping shots from well beyond the line. But more often than not, the Kings completely broke down on defense. Not locating Anderson or leaving him to double elsewhere was an inexcusable mistake that burned the Kings all game. He finished with seven three-pointers and 27 points.

RALLY THE TROOPS — A quartet of Kings deserve special mention for actually bringing heart and effort to the floor in the second half — Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Travis Outlaw. A 27-point deficit was trimmed to eight thanks to the efforts of these guys. Tyreke (37 MIN, 16 PTS, 5-12 FG, 4 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO) showed that he was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take anymore. He was clearly fed up with the early play of the team, and he stepped up his game on both ends. DeMarcus (41 MIN, 29 PTS, 11-17 FG, 13 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO) provided his now typical yeoman’s effort down low. The big man’s desire to finish at the rim, attack the glass and battle with Robin Lopez was crucial in the Kings comeback bid. Isaiah (40 MIN, 20 PTS, 8-14 FG, 3 AST, 4 TO) provided a spark from the lead guard spot. He took the offensive load on his own shoulders, rather than setting up others, as he saw the team’s need for points. And Travis Outlaw, the 12th man off the bench, has become Keith Smart’s last resort in times of need. Outlaw (16 MIN, 10 PTS, 3-6 FG, 2 REB) immediately knocked down a triple and committed himself to defense. While he lost Anderson on occasion, in a game full of sleepwalkers, his effort was not unnoticed.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — Jimmer Fredette is officially the 13th man right now, as all 12 of his teammates saw the floor while he sat out … Outlaw and Francisco Garcia were the only reserves to play in the second half. Thomas, Evans and DMC played the final 24 minutes … Not exactly a spectacular homecoming for Marcus Thornton (11 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-9 FG, 0-3 3FG, 4 REB). His brief first half stint included poor perimeter shooting and a failure to fully exploit a mismatch with Austin Rivers … Sacramento made just 3-of-15 from three-point range … If you need a shot in the arm after the recent depressing news, read Bryan’s latest piece about keeping the faith. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but there’s still a glimmer of hope.