Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com DeMarcus Cousins leads the Kings with 17.8 points per game, but his shooting percentage – along with those of top scorers Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans – is down from last season.

Bad start, even for this sorry franchise

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 - 12:51 am

Since moving to Sacramento in 1985, the Kings have had 19 losing seasons.

Among the worst teams of the past 27 seasons, the 2008-09 group set a franchise low with 17 wins. But even that infamous team started 4-6, better than the current squad.

The Kings' 2-8 record is their worst start since the 1990-91 team began 1-13 and didn't win its second game until Dec. 4.

And most around the team are surprised as to why.

The Kings can't score.

"I don't think you can avoid that our record isn't what we hoped it would be at this point, and the major reason for that is that we've just struggled mightily on offense," Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie said.

"The improvements we've made defensively for the most part have been mitigated by not being able to be productive offensively, primarily in the halfcourt."

The Kings have lost four consecutive games at home, and the Los Angeles Lakers visit Sleep Train Arena tonight.

The Kings entered Tuesday 26th in the NBA in scoring (91.2 points per game), 27th in shooting (41.8 percent) and last in assists (17.3 per game). Despite the lackluster production, the Kings don't appear ready to make a drastic move.

Instead, they'll have to rely on improvement from within to fix an offense that depends on its three top scorers to carry the load.

Marcus Thornton, DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans are the only players who have taken at least 100 shots, but none has been efficient. Thornton is shooting 39.2 percent. Evans is at 41 percent and Cousins is shooting 43.1 percent.

While all three are scoring below last season's average, Petrie says now is not the time for roster moves. Instead, everyone simply needs to play better.

"I think in the short term, you have to give it a little more time," Petrie said. "And maybe there are different lineup combinations that will work better, maybe there are different rotations that will work better.

"But at some point those things have to be open for discussion. I don't think this early in the season there are teams looking to be aggressive and make changes."

Coach Keith Smart believes if the Kings begin making open shots, their fortunes will improve.

The Kings are 28th in three-point shooting (29.8 percent) but also have struggled to score inside.

"You've got to come away from the paint with a foul or a bucket or an and-one if you can get both," Smart said. "That hasn't happened to us a whole lot in the first 10 games. Maybe in the next 10 games it will be better."

Petrie said "self-inflicted" issues like the two-game suspensions of Cousins and rookie Thomas Robinson haven't helped for a smooth start. But like injuries, the team has to be prepared for unforeseen issues that arise.

The Kings began the season with some impressive defensive numbers, but those have slipped lately as the offense has lagged.

"Some guys may be mad they didn't get the ball or something like that," Evans said. "We've just got to know it ain't about points. We've just got to worry about going out and getting a win."

Even if the defense reverts to its early-season form, the Kings won't win games without scoring.

"Most of the games, our defense has been adequate," Petrie said. "We just can't generate enough points. I don't think there's any defense that can hold any team to 82 points a game."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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