The Sacramento Kings didn’t look ready for basketball tonight. I know how vague that sounds, but trying to determine exactly what is happening behind those walls, and in that locker room, is nearly impossible. There is a disconnect between the players, coaching staff, and front office that has created another round of drama that has, for all intents and purposes, ended the Kings’ season. There is no coming back from this one.
The Kings are bad without DeMarcus Cousins, but this game didn’t start out as ‘we’re missing our best player’ bad, this game started out more like ‘one team was ready to play basketball, and the other guys were so distracted and distraught by everything else that they didn’t know what to do’ bad. It wasn’t fun.
The Kings would play themselves back into this game, because the Orlando Magic are not good. Even without DeMarcus Cousins, this is a team the Kings can beat on their home floor, but that start – wow. Rudy Gay had three turnovers in the first 2:30 of the game. The Magic went up 17-4 before the Kings had found anything that was working offensively. It momentarily looked as if Kings were figuratively and literally finished, as in, the players and Karl had finally had enough of each other, but we narrowly avoided that for at least one more night.
Marco Belinelli got hot, and along with Rajon Rondo carrying the offense as much as he possibly could with how the players around him were performing, the Kings worked their way back to a one-point game at the half. Yay?
The Kings’ terrible scrambling, switching defense reared its ugly head towards the end of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter, giving the Magic a comfortable lead that the Kings could never overcome. The details hardly matter. The Kings teased multiple comebacks, nothing got them over the hump, etc. Nothing new to report here, you've seen it all before.
Darren Collison, Omri Casspi, and Rudy Gay shot a combined 8-36 from the field. Rudy Gay was particularly bad, shooting just 2-9 with six turnovers. You can’t have that sort of offensive production from your top three scorers when DeMarcus Cousins is out. It was borderline remarkable that the Kings kept this game close when you look how much those guys underperformed.
You can place some of the blame for this loss on Cousins, by the way. His suspension put the Kings in a tough spot that they should have been able to overcome. Should. They didn’t, and despite what you may have heard, the Kings are a better team when DeMarcus Cousins is on the court.
Alright, a couple more noteworthy moments before I call this one –
Willie Cauley-Stein started in place of DeMarcus Cousins, but was replaced by Kosta Koufos to start the second quarter. While I dislike that move from the standpoint of ‘I want Cauley-Stein soaking up every possible minute as this meaningless seasons winds down’, Kosta Koufos was one of the best Kings tonight, so, I’ll keep my mouth shut this time.
Seth Curry returned! His offense wasn’t good, but he made an immediate impact defensively with really active hands. He was only credited with one steal, but he was poking and getting his hands on the ball all night.
The Kings got outrebounded 51-37. That is outrageous. The Kings’ roster has Karl is a tough spot, because none of Quincy Acy, Willie Cauley-Stein, or Kosta Koufos have excelled playing together, and any of those pairings results in a very limited offensive unit. Rebounding was a problem against Cleveland with Cousins, and it was a problem again tonight without him.
This is where I would say that playing Willie Cauley-Stein and DeMarcus Cousins together solves that problem, but I said I wouldn’t do that tonight.
There you go. Another loss, dropping the Kings to 25-39 on the season, and this team is crumbling. Fast.