MINNEAPOLIS Seven games into his tenure as the Kings' coach, Keith Smart has seen enough of the bad basketball that has dogged the team in recent seasons.
As Smart put it, it's time for the Kings to grow up.
They lost their third consecutive game Monday night, 99-86 to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
The Kings have been known for their offensive inefficiency of late. Entering Monday's game, they were last in the league in field-goal percentage (39.3) and assists per game (14.2).
And although the Kings shot above their season average (44.3 percent) and had a season-high 20 assists Monday, they fell back into the habits that have made them struggle on offense and easy to guard with too much one-on-one play.
"We pound the ball too much," said Smart, who's 2-5 since taking over for Paul Westphal. "I give them the simplest offense that you can run you just move it to a spot, then move it to the next spot. But for whatever reason, we're trying to make the plays ourselves, and the defense is set, looking at the basketball."
Many of the Kings are one-on-one players who prefer to get the ball and make a play on their own, especially when things are going badly.
"Every player on this team has that mentality, but that's something we've got to grow out of," center DeMarcus Cousins said. "We've got to learn to trust together and learn how to play together."
Tyreke Evans said he doesn't think the Kings are selfish but added that everyone is doing what he thinks is best for the team to win.
"It's frustrating," Evans said after recording a season-high 10 assists. "Some guys come down and make a shot, and the next guy thinks he has to come down and make a shot. Good teams don't do that."
Right now, the Kings (4-10) aren't a good team after falling to a Timberwolves squad missing its second-leading scorer, Michael Beasley (right midfoot sprain).
Smart was disappointed with the defensive breakdowns and lack of offensive execution in the fourth quarter.
The Kings trailed 72-71 with 8:51 to play but couldn't keep up with Minnesota (5-8). Their offense became stagnant, with the ball staying on one side of the floor.
"All we have to do is massage the ball, make them guard us," Smart said. "We try to take a fallaway jump shot that leads to a fast break, and now our numbers are against us . Our team is in a growing session, but they've got to move to thinking the game all the way through."
The Kings actually showed signs of breaking their habits in the second quarter, when backups Jason Thompson, Francisco Garcia and Jimmer Fredette played most of the period.
The trio scored 20 of the Kings' 24 points in the second and helped hold the Timberwolves to 14 points, a season low for a Kings opponent.
But tor the second time in three games, the starters couldn't keep up the energy in the third quarter. The Kings lost Friday in Houston after the starters could not keep the momentum going after halftime.
Smart said he will look at lineup changes before the Kings host Indiana on Wednesday.
"The season is too short, and you can get out of the hunt pretty quick," Smart said. "We've got a long flight home, and I've got a lot of thinking to do because right now this is not working for our basketball team."