CK Press Box Report: Charlotte Bobcats 113, Sacramento Kings 103

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

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Box Score

Offense wasn’t an issue for the Sacramento Kings against the Charlotte Bobcats. Defense, however, was in a 113-103 loss to the Bobcats at Sleep Train Arena on Saturday.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Bobcats were the second lowest scoring team in the NBA, averaging just 92.6 points per contest. The Kings allowed the Bobcats to buck that trend as Charlotte shot a season-high 54.2 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point distance. In the first half alone, the Bobcats shot 64.3 percent and scored 65 points.

“When we allow teams to get off to a start like that,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the game. “Where they don’t feel us and they score at will, then it is too late by the end of the game.

“The basket turns into the size of a hula-hoop,” he added.

As they have many times before this season, the Kings made an effort at a comeback in the second half. DeMarcus Cousins scored 16 of his 26 points in the third period, which helped the Kings come within two. However, the Bobcats had an answer on offense every time the Kings cut into their lead.

“Defensively we have to get better,” Kings starting small forward Rudy Gay said.  “We’re a better defensive team than the way we we’re playing.  We just have to learn how to do it consistently.”

Jason Thompson got off to strong start for the Kings. He scored 14 of his 15 points and grabbed nine of his 14 rebounds in the first half. However, foul trouble once again plagued the sixth-year big man and forced him to spend much of the second half on the bench.

Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson were practically unstoppable for the Bobcats in victory. The Bobcats point guard scored 16 of his 30 points in the quarter after intermission while Jefferson scored 10-straight points late in the fourth quarter to close out the Kings. The Bobcats forward finished the game with a season-high 27 points and nine rebounds.

“That was one of our best offensive games,” Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford said following his team’s win.  “We had balance.  We had a bunch of three’s, but it was good in our post-up game and our pick-and-roll game was good.”

Saturday’s loss brings the Kings’ record to 10-22 overall, 6-13 at home. They return to action Tuesday night when they the Portland Trail Blazers at Sleep Train Arena.

Notes and Analysis

  • DeMarcus Cousins put up monster numbers, but it was his late game defense that let down the Kings in Sacramento.  Al Jefferson ran rough-shot over Cousins, scoring 10 consecutive points for his team between the 4:47 mark and the 1:21 mark of the fourth quarter.  Cousins finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, but the result was another tough loss for the Kings.
  • The same can be said for Isaiah Thomas.  Thomas’ 21 points and eight assists look good on paper, but Kemba Walker went off for 30 points and six assists in the battle of point guards.
  • Jason Thompson had an incredible first half, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds before the break.  But he lost his cool in the third quarter and finished with just 15 points and 14 rebounds on the night.
  • Rudy Gay played a team-high 41 minutes tonight, finishing with 17 points on 8-for-14 shooting.  The Kings starting small forward added 10 rebounds and four assists and even played peacemaker on the bench while his teammates squabbled.  Gay is a pro’s pro, but his fellow teammates better figure things out or he will opt to go elsewhere this summer.
  • Marcus Thornton provided a nice spark off the Kings bench, scoring 12 points in 26 minutes of action.  It was nice to see him produce after last game’s 1-of-6 from the field, two-point performance.
  • After two straight quality outings, Jimmer Fredette came back down to earth, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.  For the most part, Jimmer took good shots, they just didn’t go down tonight.  Like the rest of the Kings players, Jimmer has to get better at staying in front of his man on the defensive end.  But the Kings actually held tough during the minutes he was on the floor tonight, despite his poor shooting performance.
  • Stat of the Night: The Charlotte Bobcats were riding a five game losing streak and playing their fifth straight road game coming into tonight and still managed to man-handle the Sacramento Kings in front of their home crowd.

Quote of the Game

Michael Malone on the team getting frustrated with each other:

“This is what losing does. You start to get frustrated with each other—and that’s our biggest challenge, aside  from our defense. Our chemistry and our camaraderie aren’t working. We can’t fall apart because we will start fraying at the seams. If that happens, then we will have no chance. One of my biggest challenges as a head   coach is to keep this team together. Even though it has been disappointing so far, we need to stay together.  We’ll continue to do that—I’ll make sure of it.”

Video shot and edited by Kimani David.