The honeymoon is over for the Sacramento Kings. After starting the season with a 3-1 record, the Kings have lost their last three games, the last of which was their most discouraging loss of the season. On Monday night, the Kings lost to the Golden State Warriors 137-106, which dropped their record to below .500 for the first time this season.
The Warriors, who are just starting to see their luck turn around, tied their season-high for points on Monday, but they did it without a whopping 62 points from Steph Curry. They also did it while shooting a higher percentage from the field (52.6%) and behind the arc (54.8%). They were getting whatever they wanted offensively, and unfortunately it wasn’t in spite of an inspired defensive performance from the Kings.
Defense is always going to be important for the Kings because their fast-paced style of play is reliant on them getting points in transition, but it’s especially important when they’re short on ball-handlers like they were on Monday night. Tyrese Haliburton can’t come back soon enough.
However, as important as Haliburton clearly is to the makeup and identity of this Kings team, their relapse has been a result of teams getting film on them and exploiting their weaknesses. The Rockets showed that a little aggression can go a long way against the Kings, and the Warriors followed that same recipe on Monday
It also didn’t help that they couldn’t hit a shot from anywhere on the field, but especially from behind the 3-point line, where they converted just 28.6% of their shots. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the Kings were the team on the second night of a back-to-back.
Luke Walton will obviously have to make adjustments between now and when the Kings play again on Wednesday, but the players aren’t without fault either. You can’t give a half-hearted effort on defense and expect to win games — that’s just not how this works. Hopefully they show more fight on both ends against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.