Lately, the Kings haven’t had trouble starting games off with good energy. But Thursday night, low energy from the jump was the main culprit in a 113-104 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Sleep Train Arena.
“I thought that we just had no energy tonight,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the loss. “I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact that we were playing a team with a losing record. They knew that this team had just beat Denver and Los Angeles (Lakers) on the road. I think it was a matter of us not being able to find a rhythm or a consistent energy tonight.”
The Kings played a disjointed game, particularly in the first half as opposed to the second. They let the Sixers get out to a 61-51 halftime lead, allowing Philadelphia to shoot exactly 50 percent from the field before the break.
“You could tell right off the bat that we just didn’t start strong enough,” Kings forward Derrick Williams said. “They were coming down and really doing whatever they wanted, really getting into their offense and being able to take good shots. Anytime the other team is able to take good shots, you’re not going to really win too many games.”
Old bad habits returned for the Kings in Thursday night’s defeat. They went back to playing mostly one-on-one for much of the game, which resulted in 23 turnovers to just 14 assists. Their 23 miscues, one shy of their season-high, led to 27 points off turnovers against the Sixers.
If not for the enthusiasm of their fans, the Kings might have lost bigger to the Sixers. Kings fans brought their “A” game Thursday, helping the Kings rally in the quarters after halftime. Their energy helped power a hot start to the fourth by Jimmer Fredette, who scored 12 of his season-high 15 points in the beginning of the period.
“I just wanted to come in, make a spark and do what I could to try to get us back into the game,” Fredette said after the game. “We were able to get back into it but too little, too late. So that’s just kind of what happened.”
The fans also directed their energy towards former Kings center Spencer Hawes in the form of boos. The Seattle native has been an ardent supporter of bringing back the Sonics, even if it meant relocating the team that selected him 10th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft.
“Nah, I knew it was going to happen,” Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas said of the boos Hawes received tonight. ”That’s my guy though. I love the dude, but I knew it was going to happen.”
With the loss, the Kings fall to 10-21 overall and 6-12 at home. They return to action Saturday evening when they host the Charlotte Bobcats at Sleep Train Arena.
Notes and Analysis
- DeMarcus Cousins is putting on a show in the first half of the season. The only thing that has slowed him down is foul trouble, which again limited him tonight to just 28 minutes of action. Cousins finished with a game-highs in points (33) and rebounds (14). He turned the ball over five times and picked up his tenth technical of the season, but he is flat out unstoppable almost every night for Sacramento.
- There was a Jimmer sighting tonight at Sleep Train Arena. Settling into his new role as Malone’s backup point guard, Jimmer caught fire in the fourth, scoring 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the arc in the game’s final 12 minutes. He got the crowd going and made this one close, but his three turnovers hurt the comeback attempt.
- Isaiah Thomas was either hot or cold tonight. After scoring a quick nine points in the first quarter, Thomas went 0-for-3 in the second. He followed that up with a 14-point third quarter, but missed his only shot in five fourth quarter minutes. The final stats look good – 23 points and seven assists in 36 minutes, but Thomas was erratic tonight in his 36 minutes.
- Rudy Gay continues to shine in Sacramento. The veteran wing finished with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in 30 minutes tonight. Derrick Williams played strong off the Kings bench, but it would have been nice to see a few more minutes from Gay tonight.
- Williams scored 11 points in 25 minutes off the bench and provided a much-needed spark on the defensive end with three blocked shots. The former second overall pick is still finding his way in his new role for the Kings, but for one night, he was pretty good.
- Malone got absolutely nothing out of his two shooting guards tonight. Ben McLemore and Marcus Thornton combined to score two points on 1-for-11 shooting and 0-of-6 from long range. Late in the game, Malone turned to Jimmer alongside Thomas to mixed results. It’s tough to win when you get zero production out of one of your five positions on the floor.
- Jason Thompson played a little less than 20 minutes tonight, scoring just two points and grabbing five rebounds. Thompson was on the bench for most of the second half when Thaddeus Young went off for 17 points. Malone needs to find a way to get Thompson, McLemore and Thornton involved when they are in the game.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings finished the night with 14 assists and 23 total turnovers.
Quote of the Game
Michael Malone on if the loss was a step backwards for the Kings:
“Obviously we had a very positive three-game stretch before this with Miami at home, seeing positives in the San Antonio game, and then in beating Houston on the road. It’s just more disappointing to me that we look like a team that played a back-to-back, but Philadelphia played in Denver last night. We looked like we were trying to find our legs the entire night and I can’t explain that. It was frustrating but we have four more games in this homestand and we will regroup tomorrow, get some good work in, and hopefully play with a lot more effort in the next game.”
Video shot and edited by Tobin Halsey.