This is getting to the point where I almost need to create a template for these recaps and just fill in the blanks. Once more the Kings face a team missing it's best player (I "joked" pre-game that without Nene we'd lose by 30), and end up getting blown out. No one person on the Nuggets stood out, although Al Harrington led Denver with 15 points. It was an ultimate team effort by them, and they killed the Kings in transition (31 fast break points) and in the paint (62 points in the paint). The Nuggets had 31 assists on 46 made baskets, while the Kings had yet another game with more turnovers (16) than assists (12).
DeMarcus Cousins had his best game of the season by far for the Kings, scoring 26 points on 9-12 shooting in just 25 minutes while also playing decently on the defensive end. About the only thing he didn't do well was rebound (only 3 rebounds) and the team as a whole was killed on the boards by Denver (49 to 37). This might be explained by the fact that Denver scored 60.5% of their shots while the Kings managed a paltry 32.6%. Aside from Cousins, Marcus Thornton was the only one able to get anything going, scoring 23 on 8-20 shooting. Take those two players away, and the Kings only shot 13 of 60 or 21.6%. Let that sink in for a moment.
Tyreke Evans only played 23 minutes and missed most of the 2nd half after throwing up during halftime, likely because he watched some first half highlights (H/T Heuristic Lineup).
This team looks lost out there. They give up way too easily and it just seems like they aren't putting in maximum effort. Even when Denver emptied out their bench at the end of the game, they continued to build up their lead and play with energy. You could say the Kings are suffering from tired legs, playing their 4th game in 5 nights, and while I believe that's an issue for some (particularly the rookies who really struggled with their shot tonight), I think the bigger issue is that the team at large isn't putting forth 100% effort, and that is a major problem.
Paul Westphal is a good person. I've met him a few times and I've come away with good impressions. But as of now, I don't think he is the coach this team needs or wants. The team needs a breath of fresh air, a new outlook, and Westphal is not bringing it. I don't know how successful an interim coach like Keith Smart or even a new hire (which rarely happens mid-season) can be, particularly with the compressed season and little practice time, but at this point, I think you have to try.
The start to this season has been more frustrating to me than any season in recent memory. We weren't supposed to be this bad. I don't think most fans thought we'd be contenders or even necessarily in the playoff hunt, but at least be competitive night in and night out. Especially after the craziness of last season and the relocation issue, and then the months of no basketball due to the lockout, I, as well as many other fans, were so pumped up for the Kings to be returning to Sacramento and to hopefully begin their rise to relevance once more. Instead it looks like our annual tradition of getting screwed in the lottery will continue for the foreseeable future.