Bench continues to let down Sacramento Kings


In case you missed the game on Tuesday night, the Sacramento Kings found a new and exciting way to lose a game to the Golden State Warriors.  The last time these two teams hooked horns, it was a 52-point outburst by Klay Thompson that did the Kings in.  This go-around, the Warriors bench outscored the Kings’ 61-12.

The easy answer is to point to the Warriors using their bench heavily because they had a big lead.  That is the answer that coach Tyrone Corbin had following the game.

“I mean, I played our starters in the second half for a lot longer,” Corbin said.  “I thought that we had something going, and we cut it to 12 at one point.”

It’s the job of the Kings coach to sit in front of the media following a game and say something.  Anything.

Sure, the Warriors bench played more minutes than the Kings’, but it’s for good reason. Golden State has a system in place to support the use of a bench.  And they have veterans at every position to anchor the second unit.

Perhaps there is no bigger issue for the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings than the failure of the bench.  You could point to the firing of Michael Malone, but even he had major issues winning when center DeMarcus Cousins went down with viral meningitis.

Tuesday night was a microcosm of this season.  With 4:01 remaining in the first quarter, the Kings led 22-17.  Less than a minute later, Corbin went to his bench, inserting Jason Thompson and Quincy Miller, a player on his second 10-day contract, into the game.

Ramon Sessions entered the game for Darren Collison shortly after and by the 1:24 mark of the first, the Warriors had already taken over the lead.  As the first quarter came and went, the Warriors led 29-22 and were riding a 15-0 run into the second quarter.

As Corbin shuttled in more of his bench, Golden State continued to drive the lead up.  Jason Thompson finally ended the Warriors 23-0 run at the 9:38 mark of the second, but not before the Warriors had taken a 15-point lead at 37-22.

Essentially the game was over with 34 minutes remaining to play.

The second half collapse was similar, with one exception.  Trailing by 22 points with 7:04 remaining, Corbin replaced Williams with Omri Casspi, and the veteran wing gave the Kings a boost like he has for most of the season.

The result was a sustained run that helped the Kings cut the Warriors’ lead as low as 11.  Steph Curry made a wild 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining in the quarter, giving Golden State a 14-point lead heading to the fourth.

“It’s not a diss on the bench, but I thought that we came out a little flat,” Corbin said.  “We made substitutions, and that starting group in the third quarter gave us a little push so I wanted to see if we could ride that lineup to get over the hump. It just didn’t work out.”

Corbin began the fourth with the starting lineup, with the exception of Casspi filling in for Williams.  The Kings held steady at a 15-point deficit, but at the 8:44 mark Corbin inserted McCallum into the game for Collison and the wheels fell off the bus.

In just over three minutes, the Warriors went on a 12-0 run and pushed the lead to 27.  GAME OVER.

This is only one game in a season of disappointments, but it’s a perfect example of what ails this team.  The Warriors are one of the best clubs in the league, but that just magnifies the need for a team effort.

The Sacramento Kings are collapsing.  It doesn’t take much to see where the issue lies.  Their roster is poorly constructed.  The parts are greater than the whole.  The standard starting five of Collison, McLemore, Gay, Thompson and Cousins fit together, but the other nine guys can’t seem to find a way to compliment the first team.

Placing blame on any one person is tough, there is plenty to spread around.  Players are performing below their career averages.  Young players have taken longer to develop.  Management has made mistakes and coaches have struggled to find combinations.

The Kings need to look long and hard at their reserves.  They need more talent, but maybe more importantly, they need different talent.  Carl Landry and Omri Casspi have proven to be solid pros, but Corbin needs more options.

The trade deadline is two weeks away.  If the Kings have any hope of using the final 35 games to build for next year, they need to be aggressive and get their starting unit some reinforcements.