SAN ANTONIO This is a lesson the Kings are too well versed in.
They fall behind by double digits; make a run only to stall behind basketball that they know is fundamentally wrong.
The Kings were left wondering if they hadn't fallen into that trap again if they would have been able to overcome a dreadful first quarter and defeat the San Antonio Spurs.
But the Kings repeated those mistakes and lost, 108-101, Friday night at SBC Center.
The Kings missed 19 of their first 24 shots to start the game and trailed by 10. But they cut the lead to 66-65 with 5:49 to play in the third quarter.
But the Kings would never gain the lead in losing for the fifth time in six games in the first game of a three-game trip.
"Sometimes we have to look at each other say 'what did it take for us to make this lead go down rather than we're down one it's my turn to take a shot,' " said forward Jason Thompson.
The Spurs responded with a 9-0 run. That was a theme for the Kings in the third quarter.
The Kings were down 77-74 with 1:29 left in the third and the Spurs scored seven unanswered points to close the quarter.
"I thought every time we got close, (down) by one, by three, that quick shot we didn't need," said Kings coach Keith Smart.
The Kings were only in the game after shaking off a dismal start, especially from the starting lineup.
The starters shot 8 of 26 in the first half. The only starter with a decent start was Thompson, who made six of his 10 shots.
It was the play of reserves Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette and Toney Douglas that kept the Kings (28-51) within reach.
"It was like (the starters) were running in mud ," Smart said. "A couple of shots didn't go down and that kind of takes you out of what you want to do as a starter."
The Spurs took advantage of the slow start to lead 23-13 after the first quarter.
"They came out to push the tempo in the first quarter maybe thinking we were going to be a team that wasn't going to get back on defense, and they ran us out of the gym early on," Smart said.
The starters responded in the second half to get the Kings back in the game. DeMarcus Cousins scored 18 of his 19 points after halftime.
"I think we just got aggressive and that's how it should have been from the start," Cousins said.
But Thompson pointed back to the crucial stages of the third quarter when the Kings couldn't do enough of the right things to take the lead.
"We didn't remember what it took for us to get there," Thompson said.
"Making the second pass, playing defense and stuff like that. We took quick shots, had turnovers and then they brought (the lead) from one to nine in like a minute."
Thompson finished with 18 points and six rebounds. He now has 2,676 rebounds in his career to tie Wayman Tisdale for sixth all-time in the team's Sacramento era.
Douglas scored 15 points and had a season-high seven assists. Fredette scored 14 points.
Tony Parker led the Spurs (58-21) with 22 points and 10 assists. Tim Duncan scored 18 points.
The Spurs shot 54.5 percent while the Kings finished at 43.8 percent for the game.