The Sacramento Kings should probably start packing. Follow a crushing loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, the Kings torpedoed any chance they had of ending their 13-year playoff drought with a shameful effort against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, in which they lost 132-116.
On paper, this wasn’t supposed to be an easy matchup for the Kings. The Magic’s best player, Nikola Vucevic, is a skilled seven-footer that can score in a variety of ways, and the Kings had no one to counter that skillet with Alex Len sidelined. However, there are ways to work around that, and Luke Walton had the right idea at the start.
When the Kings went down early, Walton put in a lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica. In theory, that lineup opens up the floor for De’Aaron Fox and creates opportunities for the Kings from behind the 3-point line. In practice, though, it didn’t matter because the Kings’ offense has no ball or player movement.
Their defense was no better, as they gave up 78 points in the first half, including 44 points in the first quarter. For context, the Magic have averaged 25.9 points per game in first quarters this season, which is the second-lowest average in the NBA. The 44 points they scored against the Kings on Sunday tied their franchise record.
The personnel is part of the problem, for sure, but the team’s struggles go much deeper than that: it’s Luke Walton, it’s Vlade Divac and it’s Vivek Ranadive.
Why is it that a team that felt so disrespected going into the season’s restart playing with such little heart? What happened to the Kings team that made a run before the season was suspended? What’s the point of them being in Orlando if they’re going to play like this?
The truth is there’s not, but they have six more games left. Let’s see what they’ve got.