Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

The Kings' DeMarcus Cousins drives against the Nets' Brook Lopez. Cousins finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds.

Kings end trip with loss to Nets

Published: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 - 8:43 am

NEW YORK – There is no nice way to sum up how the Kings ended their four-game trip.

The finale was a dud.

The Brooklyn Nets stopped the Kings' two-game winning streak, 113-93, Saturday night at Barclays Center.

Both teams played the previous night, with the Nets needing double overtime to win at Washington and the Kings blowing out Toronto.

But the Kings looked like the team that had to scrap for a victory Friday. Their offense wasn't crisp, and their defense was too slow.

"We didn't play good defense at all," Kings coach Keith Smart said.

The first sign of the defensive problems was Brooklyn's 67.5 percent shooting in the first half, the best shooting half by a Kings opponent this season.

The Nets finished the game at 51.8 percent, only the third time they had shot better than 50 percent this season.

For a team that was 1-12 on the road entering the trip, the Kings' 2-2 mark could be viewed as significant progress.

"That's good, but it would have been a lot better to get three. It would have been a lot better to get four," center DeMarcus Cousins said. "There are so many things we could have (done). Hopefully, we learn from these losses down the road, and we won't make the same mistakes."

Saturday's game was the only one on the trip against a team with a winning record. After some late-game errors contributed to Tuesday's loss at Detroit, the Kings won at Toronto and Cleveland.

Three consecutive road wins entering a five-game homestand that starts Monday would have been the ideal way to finish in Brooklyn. The Kings have won their last four home games.

"I would love for our team to be greedy, and (Saturday was) a night we should have tried to be very, very greedy," Smart said.

But the Kings didn't play with urgency against a Nets team that improved to 5-1 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Saturday's game unraveled in the second quarter, when the Kings were outscored 29-16. Aside from Aaron Brooks, the Kings' bench provided little offensively, and the Nets' reserves capitalized, turning a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter into a 65-47 halftime advantage.

The Kings' reserves were outscored by their Brooklyn counterparts 50-25.

Cousins, however, said the tone was set by the starting five.

"I just feel like the energy wasn't there from the beginning," he said. "It hurt us once again. I can say for myself I started off sluggish."

Cousins said the start was especially bad on defense. He said he was slow on rotations and the Nets (19-15) took advantage.

"We didn't have the energy for this game," Smart said. "Obviously, when you see we shot 40 percent, we didn't have the legs."

The Nets had six players in double figures, led by center Brook Lopez with 18 points.

Cousins led the Kings (13-21) with 28 points and 11 rebounds. He has had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in three of his last four games and has recorded six consecutive double doubles.

All things considered, the Kings have played better of late with four wins in their last six games.

"We did take some steps back (Saturday), but I feel like we're on the right path," Cousins said. "We get a chance to go home, think about it and rest our bodies. It was a tough road trip. Just come back and be ready to work."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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