The anatomy of an eight-game losing streak
As the saying goes, all bad things must come to an end. After a brutal 17-day stretch, the Sacramento Kings snapped an eight-game losing streak on Saturday by beating the Indiana Pacers, 99-94.
The last time the Kings dropped eight in a row was during the 2010-11 season, when they recorded back-to-back streaks which were separated by a win over the Washington Wizards on November 8. Both runs were fed by poor shooting, lousy defense and of course, plenty of turnovers.
This time around, the Kings weren’t done any favors by their schedule. Seven of the eight clubs they succumbed to had winning records, and a match against the hapless New York Knicks last Monday was rescheduled to March due to bad weather.
Nonetheless, the Kings only had themselves to blame for repeated miscues which led to this fall. Be warned, the autopsy of the eight-game losing streak may induce nausea.
- During the latest eight-game losing streak, the Kings scored less (97.8 points per match) and allowed more points (107 per game) than their season averages. Sacramento’s field goal percentage dipped to 43.6 percent, while their opponents shot 46.3 percent from the floor.
- The Kings’ perimeter play was particularly awful. Not only did they make merely 26.9 percent of their 3-point tries, but opponent shot 36.5 percent from behind the arc. The Kings made 4.5 3’s per game but surrendered 10.4.
- Sacramento’s free throw rates and accuracy remained relatively the same. Opponents actually drew less free throw attempts and makes, but clearly did damage elsewhere.
- Despite an emphasis on pace, the Kings scored less fast break points per game, a drop to 12.3 from a season average of 13.9. A reason for this has been their continued inability to force steals, seeing a fall in their points off turnovers from 15.6 to 14.1.
- The Kings’ lack of ball control was a mess of epic proportions. Sacramento lost 18 turnovers per game in the streak, which compared to season stats would rank the team dead last in the NBA. Additionally, the careless club allowed 20.3 points off turnovers per match.
- Already last in the league in assists per game (19.5), ball movement stagnated even further. The Kings dished only 18 assists per contest, which resulted in a cringeworthy 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. 1-to-1!
- Sacramento saw a slight uptick in offensive rebounds and opponent’s defensive rebounds, a side effect for missing more field goals. Despite the increased opportunities, the Kings have managed to score only 1.9 more second chance points per game.
- A combined 10 absences from DeMarcus Cousins, Carl Landry, Omri Casspi and Ramon Sessions left the Kings no choice but to stretch out an anemic second unit even thinner. When excluding Rudy Gay’s 22 points off the bench against the Clippers due a late arrival, Sacramento mustered 27 bench points per game, but surrendered 31 per contest. The Kings let the Nets and the Raptors each score over 50 bench points.
- The Kings failed to slow down hot hands. Seven players notched at least 25 points or more in the span, including Klay Thompson’s 52-point showing. As for Sacramento, they enjoyed four such performances, with DeMarcus Cousins doing it three times and Rudy Gay once.
- Speaking of the All-Star, Cousins’ efficiency tanked during the losing streak. In seven appearances, he maintained his points and rebound totals, but his field goal percentage fell from 47.6 to 42.5 percent, and he increased his annual turnover numbers from 4.3 to 5.9.
- No player embodied the eight-game slide more than Ben McLemore. The sophomore guard slumped to 37.8 percent shooting on field goals and 28.9 percent on 3-pointers after enjoying a breakout season. McLemore’s on-ball defense also regressed to league norms in the past two weeks.
No one said an eight-game losing streak would be pretty. The Kings reversed most of these issues in their Saturday win, so perhaps they’re ready to start another long run.