There are only 12 games left in this season before the Sacramento Kings have to decide which direction to go next. But in the meantime, there are several things we can count on this team to give us like clockwork. Too many turnovers, too much freelancing on offense, bad transition defense, leaving three point shooters open just to name a few. Of late, we can add terrible fourth quarter execution to the list.
Tonight's game against the Bulls checked off pretty much every predictable error in the list. The Bulls shot lights out from three point range, hitting 12 three pointers on 50%, many of them coming in transition. The Kings committed 19 turnovers, including 8 from DeMarcus Cousins and 6 from Rajon Rondo. And yes, the Kings had another meltdown in the fourth quarter. With 6 minutes remaining in the quarter, the Kings actually had a 5 point lead on the Bulls. But going down the stretch, the Kings stopped running plays, opting to go with isolations and spread pick-and-rolls without any kind of motion beforehand. The Bulls would go on a 15-2 run and lock up the game.
The Kings got solid games from Rudy Gay and Darren Collison. Gay had 18 points, including 3/4 from three point range, looking smooth while doing it. Collison continues to be terrific off the bench, scoring 19 points of his own with 4/5 from three point range. Cousins had 19 points himself, but was once again left on an island to create for himself, leading to another inefficient night from the field. His 8 turnovers came mostly from forcing way too much in tight windows. Rondo had an awful game, with only 5 assists to his 6 turnovers. Rondo was absolutely careless with the ball, forcing it with high-risk passes that have little chance to succeed. Plus his defense was as nonchalant as ever.
On defense, the Kings did not do a good job keeping the Bulls out of the middle of the paint, which is the main goal of their defensive philosophy since George Karl did his consult with Thibodeau. Moreover, the rotations broke down on the perimeter, especially on Doug McDermott, who got loose for 16 points, going 4/7 from three point range in a fine shooting display. Its clear the team still has a lot of work to do to learn the new defense.
The Kings next play the Timberwolves on Wednesday.
- The Kings ran some several nice-looking plays out of HORNS throughout the game. None of those looks were used in the fourth quarter.
- I don't know why but the Kings had something personal going on against Nikola Mirotic. The Kings were content to sag off everyone else, but they gave Mirotic no room to breathe.
- Speaking of personal, given the long-running Boogie/Dunleavy spat, its worth mentioning that Dunleavy jumped on Cousins' back for a rebound and was aghast that he was called for a foul for it.
- James Anderson had one of the worst stretches that I can remember a basketball player having to begin the second half. First he takes a long Steph Curry three off with plenty of time on the clock left, missing horribly. Then throws an absolutely terrible outlet pass that was easily picked off. Then got a clean wide open look at a three that barely grazed the rim. He caps off this magnificence with a forced attempt in transition that got blocked. There are times that Anderson looks entirely competent as an NBA SG, and there are times like this where he looks worse than a D-Leaguer.
- Something was up with Jimmy Butler today. None of his shots looked clean and he was even having trouble handling the ball. He just hasn't been the same since Thibs left town.