AUBURN HILLS, Mich. It's a common scene for the Kings.
An opponent scores on an easy layup, dunk or wide-open jumper. The Kings on the floor look at each other trying to figure out how they could have allowed such an easy basket again.
At that point, it's a little too late to talk.
The best defensive teams communicate, barking out calls to each other. The Kings don't do that enough, one reason why they rank among the worst defensive teams in the NBA.
Entering Thursday, the Kings were in the bottom four in the league in opponents' field-goal percentage, assists and points allowed.
"We just don't talk," said forward Chuck Hayes. "If you wire everybody up (during a game), I bet it would be silent."
The Kings have lost three consecutive games, including the first two of their six-game trip their longest of the season as their problems with perimeter defense have been exposed by teams that spread the floor well.
In all three losses, the Kings' opponents shot 50 percent or better and had a player with at least 11 assists.
Twice, the Kings allowed a player to establish a career high in assists including Chicago's third-string point guard, John Lucas, who had nine assists off the bench Tuesday.
The defensive problems only make it tougher for the Kings, who rank last in shooting in the NBA.
"I just want to be a balanced team, even team and be strong as a basketball team more so than one side or the other because our team is not made up like that right now," said Kings coach Keith Smart.
After working to improve their interior defense, the Kings have been beaten off the dribble too often or have cheated too far off good shooters, leaving them open for jump shots.
"It's tough," said guard Tyreke Evans. "They penetrate, and sometimes you have to help, and you get caught up. It's just a basketball play, but sometimes when you're on a shooter, you can't leave them. We've just got to do a better job of reading that."
Part of that is also the Kings needing to recognize what the opponent is doing and alerting a teammate whose back is to the play about what might be happening.
"We're not a good-communicating team, but we're getting better," said guard Isaiah Thomas. "We've taken steps forward, but (Wednesday) we took a big step back. We've got to get back to the basics, get back to really focusing on scouting and what we need to do."
There also needs to be more accountability in one-on-one defense. Smart noted after Wednesday's loss to the New York Knicks that his players often are caught standing upright and not in a good defensive stance, which makes it easier to go past them.
The kind of talking the Kings do not want is someone standing and telling his teammate he has been beaten again.
"We've got to come out and guard," said center DeMarcus Cousins. "It's starts off with you, and I mean us as individuals. You've got to want to guard. You're supposed to trust your teammate, but you can't depend on your teammate the whole time. It starts off with you. You've got to guard. That's the problem."
Hayes might be the most studious King when it comes to preparing for opponents. Smart has said Hayes probably knows what every NBA player likes to do on offense. He isn't sure why defensive fundamentals aren't "registering" with the team.
"You aren't going to win too many games giving up high 90s and 100 a game," Hayes said. "To make this trip somewhat better, we're going to have to learn to play some defense."