Its becoming really tough to watch the Sacramento Kings nowadays. The team shows some nice potential at times, but just cannot string together enough good plays consistently to win a 48 minute game. Case in point was tonight against the Detroit Pistons, where any run that the Kings could string together would often be torpedoed by some truly dumb play or lackluster effort. This is the hallmark of a team without an identity, and tonight it resulted in another letdown game by a score of 114-95.
Today, the main defensive problem was containing Brandon Jennings. Jennings got practically everywhere he wanted on the court, scoring 35 points on 14/21 shooting; he was also scorching hot from deep, burying some unguardable three point fadeaways at a 5/8 clip. Both Darren Collison and Ray McCallum had issues containing him on the perimeter, but it didn't help that the defensive effort faded from the Kings' bigs in this game, especially DeMarcus Cousins.
Offensively, the Kings just could not shoot the entire game. Pete D'Alessandro made it a goal to improve the shooting on the roster, but the fans are still waiting for the results. The team shot 42% from the field and only 20% from three point range. Ben McLemore was shut out from three point range, scoring 11 points on 11 shots. Rudy Gay just looked uncomfortable and out of rhythm the entire night; not only was his shot completely off-target, but his defense was deficient. Gay scored only 12 points on 16 shots. The only starters to get going were Jason Thompson and Darren Collison. Thompson, who reclaimed the starting PF slot to match up against the Pistons' big frontline, looked legitimately good both offensively and defensively. He scored 9 points and grabbed 7 rebounds with 3 big early blocks, but was unfortunately chased from the game when the Pistons went small. Collison came alive in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his 17 points in the second half.
Off the bench, the Kings got a lift from Derrick Williams and Ray McCallum. Williams continued his recent stretch of strong play, scoring 12 points in 23 minutes. Unfortunately he only grabbed 2 rebounds on the entire night. McCallum came back to his college town to score 10 points in 19 minutes. Thats about all that needs to be said about the bench; Corbin has went with a strict 9 man rotation, and neither Nik Stauskas nor Carl Landry made any real impact on the night.
The body language from the team is speaking volumes now. Its tough to watch because there are stretches of legitimately good play, but it seems to be sabotaged by even the most minor mistakes. The Kings need something to jolt them back to life. They are playing on a knife's edge and are quick to turn in frustration at the first sign of trouble. Its unclear what the coaching staff or the front office can do at this point to save the season, but it doesn't look like the team trusts eachother. They are too quick to give up on plays, they are making too many mental mistakes, and they are not shy about showing their frustration with eachother. This is not rock bottom, but its sad to see a team going through the motions in a season that started out with so much promise. The next game is next Wednesday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are currently surging. If the organization cannot right the ship quick, that one could get ugly.
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