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Luke Walton says Kings need to be ‘much better’ in fourth quarter

Closing out contests has been a crucial pain point for the Kings.

Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

With the first week of the new season under their belt, one major factor is hindering the Sacramento Kings from picking up more wins: closing out the fourth quarter on an offensive high.

Going 1-2 on the season isn’t inherently surprising when looking at the level of competition Sacramento has seen to begin their regular season (Portland, Utah and Golden State), but in all three contests, the Kings have been able to hold their own offensively through three quarters — the fourth quarter is where they’ve “lost” games.

Sacramento been outscored by a whopping 94-64 in the fourth quarter through three games this season, something Luke Walton believes can be attributed to fatigue.

“Part of the problem is we’re slowing the pace down, which I get is somewhat natural in the fourth, but we’ve got to get out and go,” Walton said following Sunday night’s contest. “We need to be much better in the fourth quarter.”

Currently, Sacramento is tied with Phoenix at 29th in the league in fourth quarter margins at -10.0. Despite defense being on the rise for this squad, the sputtering ability to score has been the largest hindrance in the Kings’ success. Sacramento and Phoenix will meet for the first time in the regular season on Wednesday night, so that should be an interesting litmus test in terms of closing out vs. another team who struggles in the same area.

“We have to be better at executing those little details to continue to create open shots … if we create open shots, we’ll make them, but there has to be a full understanding of what it takes to do that down the stretch.” Walton said.

This should not be as much of a blaring issue as it has become for this squad. De’Aaron Fox is known to have his way in the final frame of contests, and there is no lack of shooting or scoring capabilities from this roster. Executing four quarters of winning basketball is as per usual, a matter of the Kings getting out of their own way.

The Kings are gearing up for their first extended road-trip of the season, including a rematch vs. the Utah Jazz on Nov. 2. This will be Sacramento’s chance to build on their offensive identity down the stretch.