by James Ham & Jonathan Santiago[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuy44Hag4EE]
In their first game back after the All-Star Break, the Sacramento Kings looked like the same team that went 1-3 before the week-long layoff. Once again, turnovers and lack of ball movement plagued the Kings in what turned into a 101-92 loss to the Golden State Warriors at home on Wednesday.
“To me, the story of the game was our turnovers and our inability to take care of the basketball,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the loss. “The flipside of that is our inability and willingness to share the basketball. That’s gotten to be a little alarming in the last month or so. We are no longer making plays for each other. Our spacing was poor tonight and there were times where we didn’t help each other out.”
In Wednesday’s defeat, the Kings dished out just 13 assists while turning the ball over an egregious 21 times. Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay were the Kings’ biggest culprits, combining to turn the ball over 11 times in the game.
“I don’t think it’s selfish,” Gay said when asked if he’s noticed the Kings’ propensity for one-on-one play tonight. “I just think we have to get smarter. Although there might be times where you think you can score – and I’m saying this including myself…but you’ve got to make your teammate better and I think that’s something we’ve got to start doing.”
The Kings fell behind the Warriors by as many as 15 points. They made a valiant attempt at a comeback in the third quarter, limiting Golden State to just 16 points while scoring 26 in the period. Thomas led the charge in the third, scoring 16 of his game-high 26 points in period after intermission.
The Kings, however, were unable to keep the momentum rolling into the final frame. The Warriors ended up flipping the script in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Kings 26-16 en route to victory.
“I think we got a little complacent in the offense,” Thomas said when asked about the Kings’ loss of momentum in the deciding period. “Things started to slow down, they got stops and they did what they needed to do. At the start of the fourth quarter we’ve got to play better, especially when we’ve got the momentum. We’ve got to keep the ball out of the hoop, get stops and get out running – that’s when we’re at our best.”
Wednesday’s game came on the heels of another roster shakeup for the Kings. Earlier in the day, they sent veteran guard Marcus Thornton to the Brooklyn Nets for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans. The deal was made ahead of the league’s annual trade deadline, which is set for 12 pm PT on Thursday afternoon.
The Kings fall to 18-36 overall and 11-17 at home. They’ve now also lost four of their last five games. They return to action Saturday night when the play host to the Boston Celtics.
Notes and Analysis
- Isaiah Thomas attempted to put the Kings on his back and carry the team to victory tonight in Sacramento. Amidst trade rumors and soreness to his left wrist, Thomas dropped in 12 of his game-high 26 points in a wild third quarter run. The 25-year-old guard shot 9-for-17, handed out seven assists and grabbed four rebounds, but he turned the ball over a whopping seven times, including three times in the deciding fourth quarter.
- Travis Outlaw played extremely well off Malone’s bench tonight, finishing with 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from deep. Outlaw added five rebounds and two steals in his 33 minutes of action.
- Rudy Gay did not have a great night against one of the league’s best defenders in Andre Iguodala. While he finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks, Gay shot just 6-of-21 from the field in the loss.
- Carl Landry started the game for the injured DeMarcus Cousins, but played only 21 minutes in the loss. Landry scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds, and even showed signs of the pre-injury player that fans have grown accustomed to seeing.
- When Pete D’Alessandro traded Marcus Thornton to the Brooklyn Nets early on Wednesday, it was with the understanding that Ben McLemore was going to get a big opportunity. Tonight was not a good start to the new McLemore era. The rookie couldn’t stay on the court, picking up five fouls in 19 minutes of action. He finished with four points and four rebounds, but shot just 1-of-4 from the field and looked outmatched.
- Quincy Acy is about to have major competition for his minutes and the team’s best beard contest when Reggie Evans shows up later this week. Tonight, Acy made his mark on the glass, finishing with a career-high 12 boards in 26 minutes.
- Ray McCallum and not Jimmer Fredette played the bulk of the backup point guard minutes tonight off Malone’s bench. Neither were particularly effective, although Jimmer saw just four total minutes, despite having a career outing against the Knicks last week. If Jimmer is still a Kings after tomorrow’s deadline, it will be interesting to see how Malone uses these two players going forward.
- Stat of the Night: Sacramento held the Warriors to just 3-of-19 shooting from 3-point land. Unfortunately, they still lost and are now 0-8 in games that Cousins does not play.
Quote of the Night
Kings coach Michael Malone on the team not making plays for each other:
“I’m just going to keep on talking about it until I’m no longer standing here. We work on it, we watch film, and we talk about it. We need to get back to making plays for our teammates—right now we’re just making plays for ourselves. We have to try to get back to becoming a team that shares and moves the ball. If you make a play for your teammate then it’s going to come back to you and it’s going to find you at some point. We have to get back to doing that. Early in the year we were doing that but lately and in the last month or so we have gotten very far from that. It’s concerning. We’ll talk about it, we’ll watch film, and we’ll practice. We’ll move that ball side-to-side. When you move that ball you become a lot harder to guard.”