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Sacramento's issue was not the refs but themselves

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven't heard by now, the Kings plan to file an official protest over the result of their most recent loss in Memphis, likely over both clock operating error (the shot clock hadn't started until after Lee shot) and whether or not Ryan Hollins tipped the ball (no definitive camera angle has proven it yet).

Personally, I believe it will be incredibly unlikely that the NBA will overturn the result of the game, but even if they do, the Kings have bigger problems on their hands.  In the grand scheme of things, one win doesn't matter.  There are flukey losses and wins every year in the NBA.  Refs make a multitude of bad calls throughout every game, and almost none get overturned.

What is a problem for Sacramento is the fact that yet again, they let an enormous lead go to waste and couldn't find a way to win despite it.  The Kings lost to Dallas despite a 24 point second quarter lead, and this collapse was even worse, as they were up 26 at one point and were still up by 17 points with just over 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

DeMarcus Cousins said it best after the game:

"It had nothing with the tip-in (by Lee), it had nothing to do with the missed free throws," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. "It had nothing to do with that last-minute segment. It had nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with the second, third and fourth quarter."

"We can't continue to make the same mistakes," Cousins said. "We can't blame the refs. We can't blame the clock man. It's on us. We have to learn from our mistakes and we have to become a better team. We can't keep putting ourselves in the same situation. We're going to continue to get the same results."

The Kings are trying to become a good team, and they've shown moments where it looks like they could be.  The 5-1 start to the season was not a fluke, as they gritted out some tough wins against tough teams.  They also found themselves in control in both of their last two games against very good teams on the road.

But then the old Kings came to play and the trust and teamwork they showed in getting the lead completely disappeared.  The Kings haven't responded very well to adversity in these last few games, and it's cost them both of them.  The fact that the bench unit continues to lose momentum for Sacramento has also not helped matters.  I wrote after the Dallas game that depth and consistency were a problem for the Kings and that showed again in the Memphis game.  In a game that Sacramento lost by just one point, DeMarcus Cousins was +19 and every other starter was at least +7.  Meanwhile every single player on the bench had a negative +/- of at least -7 (not including Ryan Hollins who played just the final defensive possession).

The final play itself was smartly designed by Memphis but was still botched by Sacramento.  With 0.3 seconds left, the only real way Memphis could hurt the Kings was a play at the rim.  If Memphis wanted to take an open jump shot with 0.3 left, let them, that's fine by me.  Open layups on the other hand are unacceptable, and it was embarrassing how open Courtney Lee got on the final play.  How the Kings didn't have someone designated to stay near the rim on that play, I don't know.

This was a tough loss to swallow, no doubt about it.  But even if the NBA somehow overturns the result (which again, is incredibly unlikely to happen), this was not a game the Kings should take pride in.  Instead, this was another learning moment and one that will hopefully stick.  For now, it's time to suck it up and move on to the next.