The Sacramento Kings lost an absolute heartbreaker to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, 136-134. There will be a lot of talk about missed calls, but this was a game the Kings absolutely should have found a way to win regardless.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s defeat.
The Kings are a bad defensive team
Say whatever you want about foul calls, fast pace and the Lakers hitting tough shots. Ultimately, the final result was giving up 136 points to a team missing Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker and Austin Reaves. When you give up that many points, it’s hard to blame the refs.
Even Mike Brown himself after the game that the Kings are a bad defensive team. As of Saturday morning, the Kings are 25th in defensive rating, which is likely not going to be a good enough ranking to get this team to the promised land.
While there could be some schematic and playing time adjustments, the Kings really don’t have many above-average defensive players on their roster. Looking at Sacramento’s starting five, it’s hard to point at one guy who is definitely an above-average defender.
Getting someone who can protect the rim in a meaningful way has to be one of the team’s priorities when the trade deadline comes around.
The Kings have come back to earth
Zooming out, the Kings have gone 10-12 since starting the season 10-6. At a certain point this season, the Kings had been good about handling the teams below them in the standings, but in recent weeks, the Kings have lost to the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards and this injured Lakers team, who was on the second end of a back-to-back on Saturday.
Sure, you could look at each game individually and point out a call, or an injury here or there, but the bottom line is the Kings aren’t coming out with wins as frequently as they need to.
Coming up, the Kings play the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets (two times) and San Antonio Spurs. Anything short of 3-1 in this stretch would be a massive disappointment, and realistically, 4-0 should be the goal here. If the Kings are serious about breaking the 16-year playoff drought, they really have to win the “easy” ones.
De’Aaron Fox continues to dominate the fourth
Fox was having a ho-hum game on Saturday until he completely exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of his 34 points. For whatever reason, Fox has a special type of confidence and execution in the fourth. He just always seems to get to the spots he wants in that period.
Fox is returning to his early season form of dominating on a near-nightly basis, although that hasn’t quite translated into wins yet for Sacramento. If Fox continues this play and the Kings can win a few more of these close games, there is a real chance Sacramento can have two players in Salt Lake City for the All-Star game.