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Kings bully Hornets in the paint, but can’t hold onto lead

The Kings couldn’t keep their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

They came close, but the Sacramento Kings still haven’t figured out how to beat the Charlotte Hornets. After leading by as much as 15 points on Monday, the Kings fell to the Hornets for the fifth consecutive time — this time by a margin of 122-116.

The Hornets went into Monday night’s ranked 15th in the NBA in defense rating while the Kings were ranked last. However, you couldn’t tell that there were 13 teams separating them on Monday. The Hornets let the Kings get just about anything they wanted in the paint and the Kings took advantage of that matchup, outscoring the Hornets 68-54 in the paint.

Unfortunately for the Kings, they lost some of that size in the front court took a hit when Marvin Bagley III exited the game with a left hand injury at halftime. Is Bagley’s injury the sole reason the Kings lost on Monday? Of course not — the Kings turned the ball over way too much in the fourth quarter and didn’t hit enough 3-pointers to make their advantage in the paint worth anything, but it’s worth noting, as is the huge over-and-back call that the referees missed late in the game.

Monday marked the Kings’ first consecutive loss since Feb. 25. They’ll look to avoid extending their losing streak past two games when they visit the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.