A fistful of consecutive losses
A horse peed on my car when I was traveling down the freeway, going about 65 miles per hour.
While this sounds like the setup, or even the punch line, to some type of joke, it’s actually something that happened to me Tuesday morning. This sort of sounds like an impossible feat but it was actually quite simple. There was a truck pulling a large trailer that housed probably six horses. There was a spout coming off the side of the trailer and a horse just happened to urinate into it. The urine went down the spout and sprayed back onto my windshield.
While some people might get mad about this because nobody wants horse pee on their car, I really couldn’t do anything but chock it up to an unavoidable occurrence. Maybe I could have avoided the horse peeing on MY car but someone’s car was going to get peed on.
With the Kings’ five-game losing streak, I sort of feel the same way. I don’t know that they could have avoided it. In a perfect world with perfect perspective, young teams who garner a little hype and praise after showing some promise during a 25-win season would come out ready to respond to those expectations and make people wish the expectations were even higher. Everyone wants the Kings to be the new version of the Thunder or Blazers from the past few years. But in reality, those situations are far more unique than a lot of other teams that rebuild with youth and organized chaos.
I know there are problems with this team. Namely, there are defensive problems all over the place. The Kings still don’t defend the paint all that well. It’s not like Spencer Hawes is back there any more, but it’s also not like Andrew Bogut is protecting the iron either. The reason the Kings paint defense might be so bad is because the perimeter defense is so bad.
Aside from a great second half stretch against the Raptors, Tyreke’s defense has been about as consistent as his 3-point shot. Beno can’t guard anybody at any time and despite the outcry for wanting to get Donté Greene more playing time, there is not a single defender on this roster who is going to fix the issues at hand. The Kings can’t close out on shooters and when they do, it’s often sloppy and allows easy ball movement or drives to the basket.
During this current five-game losing streak, everything appears to be coming apart at the seams for this team.
– The defense has been terrible. Other than posting a respectable 101 defensive rating against the Wolves, the rest of the efforts have gone 116.7 against the Lakers, 105.3 against the Grizzlies, 118.4 against the Suns and 106.8 against the Pistons.
– While the Kings have only had one bad game in this stretch giving up the 3-ball (Lakers outside assault), they’re still allowing their opponents to shoot a very good percentage from the field overall. In this stretch, the Kings are giving up an efficient field goal percentage of 52.4%. For comparison’s sake, the league average is 49.5% and the Kings rank last in the league at 52.62%.
– The Kings are allowing far too high of a percentage of shots at the rim. Yes, we all know the Kings are bigger and better, but aside from the loss to the Wolves in which they allowed just 58.4% of makes at the rim, Sacramento has allowed at least 73.7% of the shots at the rim to be good in the other four games and twice allowed 83.4% or higher.
– The Kings are also making it a custom to shoot themselves in the collective foot whenever they can. At the free throw line, the Kings have shot over 70% just once during this stretch (75% against the Grizzlies). The other times, they’ve posted 66.7% or lower at the charity stripe.
For the most part, this all seems like correctable stuff. Stop giving up so many points. Protect the basket like your new moniker and sales pitch says you will. Close out on shooters properly and rotate defensively. Make your damn free throws.
And it hasn’t been all bad during this stretch. The Kings are outrebounding their opponents 222-206 and are plus 20 on the offensive boards. They’ve shot the ball relatively well with their 41% against the Suns as the only poor shooting night. And they made up for that with a monster effort on the offensive boards.
It’s just a matter of getting the young guys to commit and play like a team. Right now, there is far too much isolation in the offense that results in poor 2-point jumpers instead of getting into the interior of the defense and finding open shots that are dying to be knocked down. Defensively, the effort just has to be better. With a young team potentially reading their press clippings before the season starts, this is probably to be expected.
They played with no expectations last year coming off of a 17-win debacle. Now they have two potential building blocks, a bunch of young role players trying to find their roles and some glaring deficiencies in the defensive and offensive perimeter parts of this team.
It’s up to Paul Westphal to get this thing headed back in the right direction, like it appeared they were headed when they started the season 3-1 with a relatively cake schedule. The season isn’t over and it isn’t time to fire the coach or trade all of the young guys not being consistent.
It’s just for a little foresight and effort to avoid the inevitable.
Let the horse piss on somebody else.