The Sacramento Kings season is winding down. A disappointing campaign showed some life with a four game winning streak, but with Rudy Gay going down with injury, that momentum came crashing back down to earth with a four game losing streak. Tonight, it was the Utah Jazz who came into Sleep Train Arena and walked out with a 101-95 win.
The Kings were once again led by the efforts of DeMarcus Cousins, who had 26 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists on 22 shots. Boogie struggled with Rudy Gobert's length at times but also was able to impose his will using his strength just as much. Ben McLemore joined in as Cousins' wingman, tallying 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals on 12 shots. Ben was active all over the court tonight, which is great to see, because he usually only impacts the scoring column. There was definitely a bounce in his step. Omri Casspi also added 14 points on 10 shots with his usual leakouts and takes into the paint.
Unfortunately the Kings were destroyed by terrible decisions, whether that was through turnovers (20 on the night) or mind-boggling shot selection. The Jazz have become an excellent defensive team ever since they traded away Enes Kanter, but the Kings were also fairly determined to shoot themselves in the foot. Cousins had 8 turnovers from a combination of bad passes, getting stripped in the paint, and forcing the issue. But there was plenty of blame to go around in this regard, from asspi's irrational confidence in his handle leading him to get stripped, Derrick Williams throwing awful alley-oop passes and getting pointless technicals, Andre Miller throwing wild passes that have no chance... the laundry list of stupidity is long and it is depressing.
Despite the loose execution, the Kings were only down 83-82 with six minutes to go. Unfortunately, it was the case of another shooting guard going off on the Kings, which has become a sadly familiar sight this season. This time it was the rookie Rodney Hood, who finished the game with 25 points, who killed the Kings with eight straight points at that moment in time. After a three pointer and a putback dunk, the Jazz were up 97-84 with three minutes to go and the rest of the game was basically a formality.
The Kings now fall to 26-50 on the season. With six games remaining, and only two at home, the team has some work to do in order to meet last season's 28 win mark. Its an especially depressing thought considering how adamant the front office was at the beginning of the year of the importance of wins this season.
- The Kings did not handle the physicality of the Jazz well. Both Cousins and Williams picked up technical fouls, the latter nearly coming to blows with Gobert. Carl Landry also got up off the bench during a timeout, but it remains to be seen if the league will hand out an automatic suspension. Great job D-Will.
- The Kings are hurting themselves at the free throw line. Only 58% shooting from there tonight (14/24), including a 4/9 performance from the usually solid Cousins.
- The need for a wing defender is becoming an alarming priority this offseason. Hood is a quality rookie, but has no business scoring 25 points. McLemore is an improving defender, but the Kings really need to find a way to stop the all-out assault the shooting guards of the NBA have unleashed on the team.
- Sauce Castillo night was unfortunately a bust for the Kings rookie. Nik only had 4 points on 1/3 shooting, including 0/2 from three point range, and had to sit out the fourth quarter after getting knee'd in the back. Hopefully the fans had fun with it though.
- The Kings defense is unbelievably frustrating to watch. There can be times where they lock in and do a solid job, but for long stretches of time they let other factors like refs or offensive struggles get into their head and the defense collapses. Great teams fall back to their defense to get through other troubles because defense isn't subject to randomness like scoring and referee calls are, thats all on you.