Kings Need Four Quarters of Effort
By: Morgan Ragan
The Sacramento Kings lost their 12th consecutive game to the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night falling 105-100.
The crowd was small and started with low energy at Sleep Train Arena but the Kings starting lineup came out strong and woke them up quickly as Sacramento took a 11-4 lead three minutes into the first quarter.
In a blink of an eye the Kings started to fall apart. The Hawks were getting shots off effortlessly and there was rarely a possession they had to work hard to score.
“We let another opponent shoot 48% against us, so our defense isn’t where it needs to be right now and we continue to dig ourselves into big holes, and every time you do that you try to fight out of it,” head coach Michael Malone said following the third consecutive loss for the Kings.
The shots weren’t falling so Malone rotated rookie Ben McLemore in the lineup late in the first quarter. McLemore had five points in the first 10 minutes off the bench including a dunk and a three-pointer. He finished with 15 points, going 3-7 behind the arc in 23 minutes.
Malone was fuming heading into the locker room at halftime as the Kings trailed the Hawks 54-45.
The second half started where the first half ended. The Kings first two possessions were turnovers. The effort was absent and so was the energy.
Going into the 4th The Kings trailed the Hawks 82-65.
DeMarcus Cousins struggled with foul trouble and was unhappy with officials after getting hit in the groin by Hawks rookie Dennis Schroder. Cousins sat a lot of the 3rd and 4th quarter due to foul trouble.
The Kings turned made a run with four minutes left in the game cutting the 19 point fourth quarter deficit to 96-89 behind Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas finished with 26 points and five assists in 28 minutes.
Thomas along with Chuck Hayes, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and Patrick Patterson made big hustle plays and forced a few turnovers to pull within one but it wasn’t enough.
“I was very proud of the guys that were in there fourth quarter, how they competed but obviously that’s a story that is getting very old.” Malone said in the post game press conference.
Cousins did not see another minute after being taken out with six minutes to go in the fourth. When Malone was asked about why Cousins didn’t go back in he said, “When you have a lineup in there playing well sometimes you want to roll with it. That was the only reason he didn’t get back in the game. It wasn’t anything he did or didn’t do.”
Cousins had a combined 62 points and 31 rebounds in the first three games this season. He was held to 11 points and six boards in 29 minutes Tuesday night against the Hawks.
The Kings (1-3) will take on the Trailblazers (2-2) Friday night in Portland.
You can hear Morgan with Deuce & J-Ross from 12-3 p.m. on KHTK. Follow her on Twitter: @momoragan