The Sacramento Kings found themselves in a precarious position heading into tonight’s game in Milwaukee after losing three-straight ‘winnable’ games on their first long east coast road trip of the season. A loss would drop them to 2-5 going into tomorrow nights 'second-night-of-a-back-to-back' matchup in Toronto. Not ideal.
We joke about early season 'must-wins', and while this wasn't that, it was an important game. And oh, by the way, both Rudy Gay and Anthony Tolliver were sitting this one out with relatively minor injuries, just to make things a little more difficult.
The Kings responded to this adversity with an embarrassing 117-91 blowout loss to the Bucks. Good times.
Sacramento didn't start this one looking particularly sharp or excited to play, and Giannis Antetokounmpo took over. He was a pleasure to watch tonight, and it's not just because we both have too many letters in our last name. He's so good.
The Bucks started to flex their youthful muscles in the second quarter, building a very strong double digit lead while the Kings just sort of sat by and let it happen. It was an awful, uninspired first half, but considering how often young teams choke up big leads, I never felt like the Kings couldn't grind their way back in if they felt so inclined.
Milwaukee got a huge first half lift from Mirza Teletovic, and by huge I mean 5-of-6 shooting from three with a total of 16 points. That wasn't going to happen again in the second half, or so I thought. A little regression from the Bucks, with a little progression from the Kings, and they'd be back in business.
They never got back in business.
The third quarter ended up being the worst one of them all. The Kings regulars never got anything going offensively or defensively, and that may sound like cliche hyperbole but it's not. The Kings were so bad tonight. It was the worst performance of the season by a large margin, and it was so completely terrible that I'd be slightly surprised if they play a worse game this season. I don’t know if they can match tonight’s ineptitude. I suppose we’ll see.
I'm not going to spend any more effort describing how poorly they played than the Kings gave on the court tonight, so I'm going to cut the 'real' game talk there and get into some garbage time fun with Skal Labissiere, George Papagiannis, and Malachi Richardson.
Skal checked in with a few minutes left in the third quarter and quickly converted an and-1 finish inside off an offensive rebound. Good stuff, rook! He also converted a short jumper curling to the rim, and another putback offensive rebound. I have a hunch Joerger will reward him with a few 'real' NBA minutes shortly. He played well, and more importantly, he played hard.
Papagiannis and Richardson showed flashes of what the Kings hope they eventually develop into. Richardson hit a tough corner three. Papagiannis, who has clearly lost a ton of weight since summer league, finished with a dunk off a quality pick and roll with Jordan Farmar.
He's not one of the newborns, but Willie Cauley-Stein also showed a little garbage time aggression. It wasn't much, but considering how dreadful he's been so far, it was nice to see.
The Kings are facing an 0-5 road trip with a tough game in Toronto tomorrow night. I’m not expecting a win, but I’m fascinated to see what, if anything, Joerger changes based off tonight’s result. The starting unit has been struggling, and outside of a one-time Matt-Barnes-for-Kosta-Koufos swap, he’s been reluctant to make a move. I don’t know what that change will be, but I think it’s time to do something different.
A wise man once said, “You see, the old way wasn’t working, so it’s on us to do what we got to do, to survive.”