Monday night's loss to the Charlotte Hornets was one of the more traumatizing in recent years. The Kings were winning this game handily, having blown open the game in the third quarter with one of their best efforts of the season. They went on to lose by five in Overtime. It was demoralizing to say the least.
So much had to go wrong for the Kings to lose that game, and it all did. George Karl took a lot of the heat for some of the decisions he made down the stretch, and he deserved his fair share of the blame. There's no question that he failed to adjust to Charlotte's increased intensity, and his unwillingness to play a rookie in crunch time that might have shored up the defense was frustrating. After the game, he made a comment in the vein that playing a rookie who hadn't played the entire second half didn't make any sense. That's a little bit ironic considering that Charlotte did the same thing in putting in rookie Frank Kaminsky, who hit some big shots down the stretch and grabbed some important rebounds.
This loss can't all be on Karl though. The Kings got up big and they took their foot off the gas. The third quarter they played was one of the better 12 minutes of basketball I've seen from this team in years. The team was moving the ball, getting good shots in rhythm, and keeping the Hornets from scoring. For some reason, they started to go away from that near the end of the third quarter. The ball movement stagnated and Sacramento started rushing shots. Once Charlotte started to make it real dangerous, the momentum had shifted completely to Charlotte's side and a back injury to DeMarcus Cousins meant he couldn't help. The Kings somehow got it into overtime, but the problems on both ends of the court carried over and it only forestalled the inevitable.
We've seen the Kings play great and awful stretches of basketball this season, sometimes in the same game like yesterday. What we haven't seen is any consistency. That's not an issue that can be put on any one player or coach. Hopefully there's no finger pointing going on in the Kings locker room for yesterday, because everyone should feel at fault. We'll see how they respond tomorrow.