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Falling Into a Shoot-Out, Kings Lose 116-106 to Sixers

I harp on it incessantly, but basically every loss can be explained the same: it's the defense. Philadelphia is bad offensive team, yet the Kings allowed the Sixers to score 116 points in 98 possessions. That's an insanely high amount. Obviously, the Kings lose something on defense when Tyreke Evans sits. His counterpart, Beno Udrih, had trouble guarding Louis Williams (22 points on 15 FGAs, four assists, zero turnovers). But that wasn't the start and end of the defensive trouble, with every Philadelphia major rotation player but Thaddeus Young scoring efficiently.

The Sixers shot 52 percent and better than 56 percent from three. This is one of the worst shooting teams in the league! That's as big an indictment of Sacramento's defense as we've seen. It's a continued problem for the Kings: the defense doesn't get out on shooters. If the Kings could limit opponent effectiveness from deep just a little better, losses like that wouldn't happen.

Sacramento's offense underperformed considering the competition, and Udrih's 3-11, 2-assist, 3-turnover night didn't help. His short pull-up, supposedly automatic, wouldn't fall: he hit his only lay-up (a classic lefty drive down the middle), and two of his four threes, but went 0-6 from 10 to 23 feet. It was a similar story for the team as a whole, with the Kings shooting 20-26 at the rim, a decent 6-17 from deep, and just 16-43 in between. What's the solution for that? Decrease the number of shots in between. Attack the soft defense of Philadelphia, and work to set up your shooters on the wings. Omri Casspi was absolutely on, and with Evans and Kevin Martin out, there's no reason Casspi can't be the team's leading shot taker. (Donte Greene, who didn't shoot well from any distance but had a bit of brilliance around the rim, took 16 FGAs, two more than Casspi and Jason Thompson.)

But again, the Kings scored well enough to beat a team as underwhelming as Philadelphia, especially in Sacramento. At this point, I'm not sure a defensive-minded, rebounding big man would "fix" the Kings defense. Sacramento has the league's second-worst rim defense, sure. But that doesn't solve the problems on the perimeter, where the Kings are among the league's worst at defending long twos and threes. It almost seems philosophical. The problem is that when you run out on shooters more frequently, you take valuable rebounders away from the rim. So maybe that big man would help, after all. I don't know. Sometimes I'm glad I don't get paid to figure this stuff out.