Beatdown In Denver Puts Onus Back On Keith Smart


Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot of stuff going on with the Sacramento Kings off the court, things that are much more important than wins or losses. But in no way does that condone the game the Kings played Saturday night in Denver.

Sure, it was a tough back-to-back, with players arriving in Denver around 3 a.m. this morning. Big deal, welcome to the NBA. Something tells me the Kings wouldn’t have fared much better if they got to Denver three days ago.

The Nuggets style of play has proven to be too much for the Kings to handle in recent years. With Saturday’s 121-93 loss, that makes for Kings losses of 28, 25, 29 and 27 points to the Nuggets just in the past two seasons. Denver, known as a fastbreaking team full of athletes, thrives against Sacramento, a team with a penchant for turning it over and playing soft defense.

The Kings were in this game for about five minutes before succumbing to the Nuggets high-powered attack. Keith Smart made changes early and often but every collection of players that touched the floor showed no ability to slow down Denver. Chuck Hayes played great in limited minutes, Aaron Brooks racked up some garbage time points and Thomas Robinson posted a double-double. But make no mistake — this was ugly from start to finish.

While the players deserve plenty of responsiblity for laying eggs like this, losses this bad turn everyone’s attention a step higher. On any other team — one not afraid to rock the boat, one with a firm ownership and active general manager — Keith Smart would be firmly on the hot seat. You’d be hard pressed to find one fan who thinks the Kings are making strides in any aspect of the game. The Denver game highlighted the Kings deficiencies. Smart is not getting the best out of his players, and that’s the job of the coach, especially one of a young, developing team. If the Kings aren’t moving forward, then changes have to be made.

Obviously, with this team, any significant changes will be coming in the offseason, when a fresh owner with a fresh bank account looks to put his imprint on a new squad. In the meantime, these are the Sacramento Kings. It’s on Smart and the players to power through stretches like this.

The five remaining games on the road trip provide no relief. The Kings next hit the court Monday in Washington against a suddenly surging Wizards team that has won five straight at home.