They just can't get out of their own way. When presented with a game that was perfectly there for the taking, the Sacramento Kings sniffed around and basically said "nah." Against a Chicago Bulls team missing their best player, it was a golden opportunity to pick up a nice win at home before the team hits the road.
Instead, the Kings slipped right back down that self-destructive path they have become familiar with this season. It was another game where they allowed a career night to a bench player averaging 5.4 points per game. It was another electric night for the opponent from three point range, with the Bulls hitting 11 on the night at 52%. It was another high turnover outing with 17, including 8 (!!!) in one quarter.
Moreover, the usual problems that come with being so disorganized continued to present themselves. DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 11 rebounds, but again it came on low efficiency (.503 TS%) and high turnovers (6). Boogie can put up huge counting stats, but in order to be efficient he can't be left isolated on the perimeter to fend for himself over and over. He needs to have his game defined for him, and all of this freelancing is killing him. Both Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay also had nights they would rather forget.
The end of the fourth quarter was a true comedy of errors. The Kings were closing the gap on the Bulls, getting to within five points after a huge Boogie slam. But a miscommunication between Rondo and the Kings coaches led to one of the most inexplicable intentional fouls I've ever seen, with the team only down five and an entire minute and half left in the game. The Bulls kept opening the door for the Kings to come right back into the game, which was promptly followed by the Kings politely declining to do so. The Bulls fouled Marco Belinelli shooting a three to cut the lead to only three. Belinelli missed the free throw, but the Bulls failed to get the rebound. Boogie only hit one of two free throws after he was fouled. E'Twaun Moore, who killed the Kings all night, missed a floater and two free throws to keep the Kings breathing. But Cousins missed two free throws to basically end the game. In short: nobody really wanted to win this game.
Ultimately, the Kings are on a freefall in the Western Conference standings. They are still within striking distance for now, but with a road trip coming up and a brutal post All-Star break schedule, who knows if that will continue to be the case. The Kings may be in trouble, and need to turn things around fast if they want to keep playing in May. Some observations:
- The Marco as a starter experiment seems to be working out. Belinelli scored 18 points tonight and was efficient from the field. It seems that he really does feed off of Rondo.
- The move also helped Darren Collison out greatly, who dropped 19 points of his own off the bench. Without Marco, Collison becomes the main offensive focus of the reserves, something I've been calling for for a while now. Before, Collison would often be stashed in a corner while Belinelli tried coming off of screens. With the ball in Collison's hands, the defense was frequently broken down.
- BEHOLD THE HAMMER OF THOR
- Bobby Jackson and the crew at CSN were all playing Sactown Royalty's Kingo game. We made it boys!
- George Karl said that the Rondo foul was "strange but happens". I just have no words for that play.