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Pelicans 115, Kings 112: Kings collapse again

Just no discipline in this team

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings are really good at finding ways to lose. This time, it was watching as a double-digit lead they built in the second quarter slowly dwindled away. By the time the Pelicans had closed to within single digits in the fourth quarter, a heartcrushing loss was inevitable.

As usual, the Kings were unbelievably sloppy on offense. Its almost coming to a point where we're becoming numb to the huge turnover numbers; 20+ turnovers for most teams is considered brutal, but for the Kings its becoming a regular occurrence. Tonight, the Kings coughed up the ball 24 times for 22 Pelicans points going the other way. When the Kings were building up the lead, the Pelicans were the sloppier team with 15 first-half turnovers. They only committed two more in the second half.

But its really the way the Kings are turning the ball over that is most jarring. They are rushing, going for home-run passes that have little chance at completion. DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo are both especially guilty of this, each notching 5 turnovers. The Collison Brainfart Tracker™, lying dormant for so long as Darren was on fire for the past month, basically destroyed itself ringing off the hook as Collison turned it over in every way conceivable.

Its a shame because Cousins was having his way otherwise with the Pelicans defenders. Boogie was spectacular, putting up 40 points, 16 rebounds and 4 assists on 16/29 from the field. But the Kings really struggled in the halfcourt when they weren't running out against Pelicans turnovers; when the shot clock passed 15 seconds, the Kings' offensive rating fell to 86.7, an indication that the halfcourt offense is just not working.

As for the defense, the Pelicans put up a ton of points but their per-possession offensive rating was only 102.3, which is a shade below their season average. The Kings for the most part defended shooters well; they are making an effort to shade ballhandlers baseline, and the rotations around the perimeter (when they don't break down) allow the team to defend the jumper much better than they have. The Pelicans only shot 7/25 from three point range, and a poor percentage from midrange.

Unfortunately, the turnovers are sabotaging their halfcourt defense, and the Kings aren't defending well at all in transition. The Kings are switching A LOT (and I mean actually switching now, not that weird saggy zone stuff they were doing pre-Thibs consult), which makes me uncomfortable, but has some merit if you want to force the opposing team to operate more in isolation. Unfortunately, many Pelicans players were able to beat their defenders one-on-one, headlined by a terrific performance by Anthony Davis (31 points). The Kings also saw their rotations break down at critical times, most notably when Dante Cunningham hit the go-ahead three pointer from the right corner when Cousins left him to challenge dribble penetration in the paint.

Ultimately, this was another game that was there for the taking in a season full of blown opportunities. It can't be much longer now before the team checks out for the rest of the season.

Random Observations

  • Omri Casspi shaved his beard. He seriously looks ten years younger.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein did not play in the second half of this game. In other news, Davis scored 23 of his 31 points in the second half.
  • Kosta Koufos needs to work on his free throw defense.
  • Rondo's jumper had fallen off a cliff lately, but tonight was 3/7 from three point range.
  • The Kings are now 0-3 against the Pelicans this year. Just seems like New Orleans has their number this year

Tweet of the Night

For the opponent's perspective, visit The Bird Writes