There had been a sense of encouragement around the Kings locker room lately.
Sacramento had beaten the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, played the reigning Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs tough on the road, and followed that with a road win over the Houston Rockets.
The Philadelphia 76ers killed the good vibe.
Philadelphia had its way with the Kings most of Thursday night, getting through Sacramentos defense to get the shots it wanted in a 113-104 win at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings looked like a tired team most of the night, while the 76ers, who played Wednesday night in Denver, were quicker to the ball more times than not.
For me, its more disappointing that we looked like the team that played a back-to-back and those guys played in Denver (Wednesday) night, said Kings coach Michael Malone. We looked like we were trying to find our legs the whole night, and I cant explain that.
The Kings hoped their previous three games would be the start of something better as they began a five-game homestand. The way Sacramento came out, falling behind by 11 points in the first half and 18 in the second half, was puzzling to Malone and the players.
I dont know what it was, but we didnt come out with the intensity that we had in the last three games, said forward Rudy Gay.
The Kings had all the signs of a team that wasnt keyed in, especially on defense. Philadelphia entered the game averaging 103 points and had 92 through three quarters.
We didnt defend for three quarters, Malone said.
The Kings shot 42.2 percent, committed 22 turnovers that led to 27 Philadelphia points, and had 14 assists.
Gay wants the way the Kings played against the 76ers (11-21) to be more of a hiccup along the way toward improvement than a sign of things to come.
I hope so, I hope so, Gay said. Were a better team than we showed. If we go out there defensively and be on a string, offensively trust each other, this type of thing doesnt happen.
The Kings (10-21) cut Philadelphias lead to five points during the fourth quarter, sparked by Jimmer Fredettes 15 points in the quarter. But it wasnt enough to overcome strong games by Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Tony Wroten off the bench.
We just didnt put a good effort forth the first three quarters, Fredette said.
Young had 28 points and career-high six steals.
We allowed Thaddeus Young to get to his left hand all night, and I know these guys were told hes a left-handed player that likes to go left, Malone said.
Turner had 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Wroten had 21 points.
The game also highlighted the Kings main defensive problem, keeping players from scoring in the paint. The Kings could not contain the ball on the perimeter and were beaten so badly at times, there was no chance for the help defense to do anything to prevent scores near the basket.
The Kings gave up 56 points in the paint, 19 second-chance points and 17 points off fast breaks.
Guys have to take a lot more pride in their one-on-one defense, Malone said. You want to trust your help behind you, but you cant rely on it every possession.
DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 33 points and 14 rebounds but was limited to 28 minutes because of foul trouble in the second half.
Follow The Bees Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.