On Tuesday night, the Sacramento Kings lost their third-straight game on the road. This time it was the 19-33 Cleveland Cavaliers running through the Kings’ defense like NFL runningback Marshawn Lynch does on a Sunday afternoon. Predictions are out the window with this team. Nothing is certain from one minute to the next let alone from game to game. There is no consistency to the effort the team gives on the floor.
“That’s something we’ve struggled with all year long, not just over games but a 48 minute long period,” coach Michael Malone told reporters following the loss to Cleveland. “Competing for 48 minutes should be a given and unfortunately, it’s not. I think we have to do a better job of being professionals and doing our job to the best of our abilities.”
The Kings aren’t competing, which is alarming, and even more so when you look at the level of competition they are facing. Not to be rude, but the Celtics, Wizards and Cavs aren’t exactly world beaters and the Kings aren’t even coming close.
Over their three-game slide, Sacramento is giving up 100.3 points per game, while scoring just 90.7 points on 38.7 percent shooting. It has been a roller coaster for the team and Malone is clearly getting tired of the lack of maturity his guys are showing.
Sullinger, a player averaging 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in his second season went off for a career night. The 21-year-old center dropped in a career-best 31 points and added 16 rebounds, matching DeMarcus Cousins‘ production on Friday.
“(He) outworked us,” Malone told reporters in Boston. “I told our guys in the huddle, ‘this is not a game plan, this is not coverage, this is effort; I have no defensive game plan or adjustment we can make for rebounding the basketball, but its just hard work.’ And right now Jared Sullinger outworked us and that’s unfortunate.”
Bennett is considered an early bust for the Cavs, but on Tuesday, he showed flashes of the player that made him the first overall selection of the 2013 NBA Draft.
“Just overall a poor effort, for the most part,” Malone said after the loss to Cleveland. We didn’t defend at all and Anthony Bennett kicked our ass.”
With the Kings falling to 17-35, they are firmly planted at the bottom of the Western Conference. There is no rhyme or reason for their schizophrenic play, but Malone is tired of the pity party.
“My concern right now is that we have some guys feeling sorry for themselves, and that’s pathetic,” Malone said following the loss to the Cavs. “No one is going to feel sorry for you. You’re a pro. Do your job.”
Unfortunately for Malone, it isn’t just one player who is struggling. During the current trip, the bench has been atrocious, but so has the entire roster. In Sunday’s loss to the Wizards, Isaiah Thomas finished with 30 points on 11-for-24 shooting (45.8 percent), while the rest of the Kings combined to shoot 18-of-58 (31 percent).
The Kings face the Knicks tonight in New York before getting a six-day break for All-Star Weekend. With rookie Ben McLemore as the only player participating in the festivities as a contestant in the Slam Dunk Contest, the rest of the team should have plenty of time to get right in the head and prepare for the second half of the season.