Road Trip Sheds Light on Two-Faced Kings


The Kings had won five straight games and were off and running to their best start since the 2001-02 Sacramento Kings. But, as quickly as Kings’ fans could say “We’re back”, the Kings lost three in a row and find themselves at 5-4 with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs coming to town. Who are these two-faced, potential-filled, choke-artists?

“These mother******s are still the Sacramento Kings.”

The road trip from hell, almost went as good for the Kings as possible. They started with a double-overtime win in Phoenix for their fifth straight victory of the season. Then, they headed to Oklahoma City, and it was there, as Kendrick Perkins stated the quote above, that the Kings of the past eight years showed up.

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It’s tough learning to win. It’s something that coaches can’t really teach players. As we’ve seen with the Kings allowing the Thunder to get the victory without the likes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, then blowing the 24-point lead against the Dallas Mavericks and squandering a 26-point lead versus the Memphis Grizzlies, the Kings still struggle to close teams out and finish games.

After holding Dallas and Memphis to 14 and 16 points, respectively, in the first quarter, the defense went down the drain, allowing 92 points in the final three quarters against the Mavs and allowing 95 points in the final three quarters to the Grizz. Although the Mavs had cut into the lead by halftime, cutting the deficit to nine, the Kings kept the pressure on the Grizz, seemingly learning from their previous mistake, before eventually squandering a 15-point lead heading into the fourth.

The two problems I’ve seen are the Kings productivity off the bench. Where Carl Landry has been a benefit to the team for the most-part early on, players like Ramon Sessions, Reggie Evans and even Nik Stauskas haven’t provided the boost the team needs to maintain a lead.

In the three losses on the road trip, the bench was outscored 119 to 65. Even with breakout road trip of Ben McLemore, and with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins producing night in and night out, the drop is so significant when the starters go to the bench, that it has to be hard for Mike Malone to even rest them.

Another issue the Kings are having is the fact Cousins can’t keep himself on the court. In the three losses, Cousins was in foul trouble in each, only playing 34, 30, and 30 minutes. With the absense of inside scoring so prevalent when Boogie’s on the bench, it leaves the Kings offense stagnent, and for the most part leaves them to rely on shooting outside jumpers, the worst strength of our offense.

Cousins can’t be replaced by most All Star centers, and to have him subbed out for the likes of Evans or Ryan Hollins, the results are exactly what you’d assume. Yesterday, in the three minutes Cousins sat in the fourth, the Grizz were able to go on a 10-0 run that got them back into the game. And it wasn’t just that one game, Cousins has been absolutely vital to the Kings offensive success. Here’s a tweet from writer, John Schuhmann regarding his production:

There were a lot of positives to make of the Kings pulling out to huge leads over one of the best offensive teams of the early season in the Mavs and the best defensive team so far in the Grizzlies, but it’s tough to console fans with the L’s in the box score and seeing the obvious potential of the team leaves much to be desired. Hopefully, the Kings can get it together and take the next steps into rebuilding, or fans will be seeing the same old Kings all over again.