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  • John Bazemore Associated Press Kings guard Isaiah Thomas grabs a loose ball in the first half Friday. Sacramento played erratic offense and passive defense.

  • John Bazemore Associated Press Kings forward Jason Thompson misses a dunk as Atlanta forward Anthony Tolliver defends in the first half Friday night.

Kings start fast but suffer fourth straight loss

Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 - 12:27 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 - 9:41 pm

ATLANTA – There's playing the right way.

Then there's playing the Kings' way.

It cost them another game Friday night as the Atlanta Hawks benefited from Sacramento's mistake-filled offense and passive defense in a 122-108 victory at Philips Arena.

It was the Kings' fourth consecutive loss overall, 10th straight against the Hawks and seventh in a row on the road to start a five-game trip.

Sacramento remains focused on offense, but its defense continues to be porous.

The Kings led by 13 points in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, they trailed by 18 as they allowed 97 points in the final three periods.

Sacramento led 33-25 after the first quarter but scored fewer points in each subsequent quarter while the Hawks piled on the points.

As the lead dwindled, the Kings played worse.

"We went away from what worked, and we have a tendency to do that every game," said center DeMarcus Cousins.

"We're a front-running team, and that's what front-runners do," said guard Isaiah Thomas. "When things are good, everybody's happy, and everybody's being a great teammate, and everybody's smiling. When things go bad, finger-pointing starts going on, and we stop focusing on defense. We start going one-on-one … ."

Some form of that statement has been made several times this season, but nothing has changed.

"If you haven't learned yet, you ain't trying to learn," Cousins said.

The defensive showing was especially bad again. Atlanta shot 53.3 percent from the field (49 of 92).

The 49 baskets were the most by a Kings opponent this season. The Hawks also had 33 fast-break points and 33 assists, with just six turnovers.

Sacramento, meanwhile, committed 16 turnovers that led to 24 points for Atlanta.

The Kings have allowed at least 108 points in their last six games. The Hawks outscored Sacramento 61-45 in the second half.

"We just gave up too many points," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "Too many turnovers and not forcing many turnovers. The deflection counts were really low for us. … You have great numbers scoring-wise, but the effort defensively was not there."

The Hawks (30-23) had six players score in double figures, led by Al Horford with 24 points. Jeff Teague had 20 points and 12 assists.

Thomas said the Kings (19-37) just aren't focused on defense, which leads to games like Friday's.

"We can do it; guys just aren't dialed in to do it," Thomas said. "We're too focused on the offensive end, too worried about the offensive end. Hopefully it changes. It's got to change if we want to win."

What makes the Kings' obsession with offense more puzzling is that even though they scored a lot of points, they didn't have a great offensive game in many areas.

There were the turnovers and too many forced shots. And Sacramento shot just 43.2 percent from the field.

The Kings did have 24 assists, a good night for them, but that was not indicative of how they played.

"The assists were there, but we still didn't play the right way," Thomas said. "That's why we lost."

Thomas had 30 points and nine assists. Cousins had 26 points and 13 rebounds.

Thomas took no solace in his statistics.

"I don't care, man," he said. "I've always been a winner. I'm never going to get used to this losing stuff."

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