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Kings 111, Hornets 131: Regression to the mean

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The Kings statistically have the worst offense and the worst defense. They’re finally playing like it and it sucks.

Kimani Okearah

Since beating the Cavaliers less than a week ago, the Kings have slumped against some of the worst competition in the NBA. Worse still, those losses have come in embarrassing fashion at home.

Charlotte’s 131 points represents a season-high for a Kings opponent, surpassing the 126 they gave up to Atlanta early in the season. The Hornets managed to score 72 points in the first half alone, and the third quarter was the only period in which they didn’t manage to score at least 30 (and they still got 28). The Kings didn’t seem to have an answer for anyone in a teal jersey. Every single Hornets starter finished with double digits, led by Kemba Walker’s 21 and Dwight Howard’s 20. Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lamb and Johnny O’Bryant III combined for 44 points off the bench. The Hornets shot a ridiculous 57.3% from the field including 15-32 from three point range.

Mind you, the Kings weren’t helping themselves on the other end. Despite managing to shoot 51.7% on their own, the Kings also coughed the ball up 15 times, often with careless passes. Charlotte scored 20 points off those turnovers, while the Kings only scored 5 off a paltry 3 turnovers forced.

There were some positives despite the terrible defense and sloppy passes. Skal Labissiere had his best game in a while with 17 points and 15 rebounds in 28 minutes. However he also showed how raw he still is at times, with questionable basketball IQ and getting lost on defense multiple times. De’Aaron Fox also had a nice game in his return to action, scoring 17 points to go with 4 assists and 3 rebounds.

But the Kings won’t be winning many games if they can’t play any defense. Garrett Temple, one of the few players you can’t fault for lack of defensive effort, was upset about the lack of effort on that end after the game.

The Kings were dead last in the league in defensive rating BEFORE tonight’s monstrosity, giving up 111.8 points per possession. Combined with the league’s worst offensive rating, the Kings statistically should be the worst team in the league. The problem is their incredible inconsistency, when they can show so much heart and effort against teams like the Cavaliers and Warriors but then barely put together a solid half against the few teams that actually have a worse record than them.

This is a problem that isn’t going away and isn’t easily fixed. What’s more worrying is that this regression is happening at home where the Kings are actually able to practice and try to work on deficiencies.

Sacramento will now have a few days off to hopefully get some good work in and get back on the right track. These last few games have been a big step back after the team had started to look more cohesive. This team isn’t expected to be great or even good, but they have to at least put forth an effort, especially at home, and it hasn’t felt that way the last three games.

For the opponent’s perspective, visit At The Hive.