Kings promising six-game trip becomes a road to nowhere

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:19 pm

There was much optimism Jan. 28 in Washington.

The Kings had just beaten the Wizards at Verizon Center, and Isaiah Thomas had kept his word to atone for the disorganized state of the Kings' offense with a solid game that ended with him making the winning shot with 1.9 seconds left.

That gave the Kings a 1-1 start on their six-game trip, the longest of the season. That, however, would be the last time the Kings would win, losing the final four games on the 10-day trip.

But even during the win in Washington, there were some telling signs that would be themes throughout the trip as the losses piled up. Most notable was the defense. The Wizards are the worst-shooting team in the NBA (42.2 percent) but shot 48.1 percent against the Kings.

There was the obvious displeasure of DeMarcus Cousins. He was benched for the entire fourth quarter but said after the game his declining play wasn't his fault or that of the opponents.

Bad defense and an unhappy Cousins defined the trip.

The Kings fell behind big in losses at Boston, Philadelphia and New York, while a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter Monday was squandered while Cousins sat in the locker room after being ejected at halftime with his second technical foul.

Rather than head home with the feeling of having made progress on the trip, the Kings have lost eight of nine overall.

There were few "cream puffs" on the just-completed trip, said Kings coach Keith Smart. "You've got to have an 'A' game to play against some of the teams we played against on the road. If you don't play well and you turn the ball over against some of those A-plus teams, then you're probably not going to pull those (wins) off."

The Kings certainly didn't bring their best game on the trip at either end of the floor. The Kings shot 40.9 percent while their opponents shot 51.6 percent.

"That was a key for most of us coming on this road trip," forward Jason Thompson said. "We felt that we didn't play too good on defense, and that's how most of the games got out of hand."

At Boston, the Kings watched as the Celtics made 14 consecutive shots in a 99-81 victory over Sacramento.

The Knicks made 19 three- pointers and had the Kings down by 50 points in the fourth quarter. The Kings' reserves were outscored 82-38 by the Knicks' bench.

Overall, the Kings were outscored by an average of 16.5 points on the trip.

"I thought this game (98-91 overtime) loss at Utah on Monday) we had, with a nudge, a little opportunity to pull off (a win) and (same for) the Philly game, as well as the Boston game," Smart said.

Cousins' frustrating trip ended early with him being ejected at halftime against the Jazz. Cousins averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. His scoring was third behind Tyreke Evans (17.2) and Thomas (14.8).

Cousins attempted 61 shots, third most on the team. He led the team in steals (12) and turnovers (20).

More than once, Cousins said with a sarcastic tone that the answer to the Kings' problems was to "do what coach Smart say" and that he was sacrificing his game to help the team.

Smart said he wasn't bothered by anything Cousins said, and such frustration will happen when a team is losing.

"You take any news article around teams that are losing some games, you're going to have some (negative) conversation," the coach said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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