Sacramento Kings suffer second-half collapse in summer league opener

by James Ham and Jonathan Santiago

Nik Stauskas and Quincy Acy on the court together. (Photo: James Ham)

LAS VEGAS – The Sacramento Kings started off their 2014 summer league schedule with a thud. After getting out to an early first half lead, the Kings allowed the Spurs to outplay them in the opening quarter of the second half.  They were outscored by the Spurs 30-11 in the third period en route to an 85-69 loss in summer league opener at Cox Pavilion.

“I’m not very pleased,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the game. “First half – did some good things, but second half, I think they outscored us 50-26. Our inability to rebound, our unwillingness to rebound the basketball (hurt us). They dominated the glass, dominated the paint. And we talked about it all week – sharing the basketball and valuing the basketball. So we have eight assists, 19 turnovers, 27 points. So just a very poor second half of basketball.”

Notes and analysis of Friday’s loss is down below.

  • New assistant coach Ty Corbin, who took over Vegas head coaching duties for Chris Jent, went with a relatively tight nine-man rotation. The Kings employed a starting unit that featured Ray McCallum and Nik Stauskas in the back-court with Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams and Quincy Acy in the front-court.
  • Stauskas is not nearly the defensive liability that we thought he was when the Kings drafted him. He had no problem staying in front of his man on most occasions and he did a solid job of fighting through screens. He is a work in progress, but the tools are there.
  • Malone on Stauskas’ defense: “I thought the knock on him was I think overly critical of him. I didn’t sense that he was an awful defender. Maybe it’s just a stereotype. But I think he can guard; he’s not a liability. We as a team did a poor job of defending at times tonight, but I think Nik’s got a chance to be a hell of a player. He has a good feel for the game, made some good plays for himself and his teammates tonight. He can shoot the ball. He can get to the rim. But, he’s gotta get better as well as everybody else.”
  • Stauskas can handle the ball, but he has a nasty habit of leaving his feet to pass and he’ll need some time to adjust to the speed of the NBA. On the plus side, his head is in the game from start to finish and he is his own worst critic. Stauskas finished with 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting and three assists in the loss.
  • Ben McLemore looked under control on the defensive end and did a very nice job of staying in front of his man. On the offensive end, he was aggressive, but still struggled with rushing his shot and his dribble, finishing with a game-high eight turnovers. He has improved this summer, but just how much is still in question.
  • McLemore wasn’t the only King that had problems holding onto the ball. The Kings as a whole were careless, committing 18 turnovers in the loss. “Just sloppy play,” Stauskas said of the Kings’ issues with handling the ball. “We were holding onto the ball a little too much, weren’t making much great decisions. We’ll watch film and we’ll learn from it.”
  • Ray McCallum had a rough game, but his athleticism and defensive prowess make him an asset. McCallum had 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting and just two assists. Jared Cunningham also struggled, leaving Sacramento rudderless at the point. Cunningham played just under eight minutes in the defeat.
  • McCallum on the loss: “We have some great young talent on the team. Obviously today, we gotta learn from everything we went through. We have too much talent on this team to have an outcome like we did today and all that really falls on my shoulders. We’ll watch the film tomorrow and we’ll figure it out.”
  • Quincy Acy played really well early on and finished with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting. This is a big week for Acy with his contract status hanging in the air. He needs a few more games like tonight’s to secure his spot on the 2014-15 Kings roster.
  • Derrick Williams should excel against lesser competition, but instead, he was just solid. The fourth-year man out of Arizona finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes. Malone thought Williams played aggressively at times, but that it took a lot for Williams to get going into the flow of the game.
  • More of Malone on the Kings’ lackluster effort after halftime: “I don’t know if we’re just not in great shape, but we ran out of gas in that second half.  They kept at it. They raised their level and we kind of wilted when that happened and that can’t happen.”

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