After another embarrassing loss in front of their home crowd, the Sacramento Kings are beginning to show major cracks. Just nine games into the 2012-13 season, veterans Chuck Hayes and Francisco Garcia called a players’ only meeting last night while media members waited anxiously outside their locker room door.
“Very frustrated,” Hayes told Cowbell Kingdom following the loss to Atlanta. “We came in with a good mindset, but things are going bad right now and we’re starting to break and we can’t have that.”
“Obviously we want people to know that we’re not satisfied with what’s going on,” forward Jason Thompson told a group of hungry reporters. “So we thought it was only right to make each other accountable and say what was on our minds because at the end of the day, when we put our hands together, we say ‘family’ and we mean it.”
Family or not, the level of tension in the room was palpable.
“We’re tired of losing,” said Tyreke Evans. “(Atlanta) came in here and did whatever they wanted, got easy baskets. We worked hard on defense in Colorado and then we come out here at home and in front of our home crowd, we (lose) by 15 or 20 every night.”
According to head coach Keith Smart, changes are coming and soon. Starting Sunday, a new lineup will begin the game, but in classic Smart fashion, he wasn’t willing to hand his plan over just yet.
On the top of the list has to be small forward James Johnson who once again struggled to find his shooting touch. Johnson finished the game 1-for-7 from the field, which dropped his shooting percentage this season below 32 percent.
The Hawks outscored the Kings by 14 points in each of the first and third quarters. For Johnson, his major moment of weakness came during an eight-minute stretch in the third quarter where he went 0-for-5 on mostly wide-open jumpers from the baseline.
Of course Johnson is only one piece to a much bigger puzzle. Poor shooting is leading to easy buckets on the other end and there are plenty of Kings to blame for their shooting woes.
For the last few seasons, the Kings have hidden their failures behind their youth and inexperience. Friday night, Hayes had a very clear message to his team.
“You know, you can only say the word young for so long,” said a fiery Hayes. “You know, you’re young if you only have 40 games in your career. You’re young if you only have 80. Soon as you crack into your second, third, fourth year, fifth year, you know, you’re not young anymore.
“You’ve done seen every play call,” he continued. “You’ve been to every arena. You’ve done guarded most of the players in the league at your position. The word young shouldn’t be thrown around no more. We’ve got to start taking accountability.”
Whatever needs to be done to right the ship needs to happen now. A typically supportive Sacramento crowd let the players and coaches hear it as they left the floor following the loss to Atlanta.
“The fans have every right,” Smart told the media while his team was behind closed doors. ”When we play great basketball, they applaud it, cheer it, did everything. They have a right. I would boo this team right now as well. Boo me as well. When the fans pay their hard earned money to come to a game, they want to see a team that plays hard and with passion.”
Booing is probably the nicest thing Sacramento fans could do at this point. If the losing continues, fans will more than likely let their wallets do the talking instead of raining down choruses of boos.
Jonathan Santiago also contributed to this story.