Two games into their five-game homestand, the Kings have done one thing consistently – allow the opposition to dictate the game.
Philadelphia and Charlotte came to Sleep Train Arena with losing records, and the Bobcats had lost five in a row.
Considering the Kings saw this homestand against four teams with losing records as a chance to improve before a six-game trip, the results have been underwhelming.
Not only have the Kings lost, they’ve been outplayed for the majority of both contests. Players sniping at each other during games has picked up, as has griping with referees.
Coach Michael Malone said it’s his job to make sure the Kings do not splinter as a team and do not break away from what has worked in their 10 wins.
“What happens is that when you start losing and getting behind, then everyone wants to make the play that could possibly get us going,” Malone said. “That’s where the word ‘trust’ comes into play. We need to trust each other, we have to trust the offense, and we have to trust the system, because when we do that, good things usually happen.”
The defense has been passive in the past two games with opponents averaging 113 points. There also have been more cases of the ball not moving as well on offense, even though the Kings scored more than 100 points in both games.
“We can’t just try to override that and do it as an individual,” Malone said. “We have to stay together and be five guys working as one on both ends of the court.”
Three practices over the past four days could help alleviate some of the problems.
The roster has four players who did not begin the season with the Kings, and center DeMarcus Cousins is the only King to have started every game in which he has played.
“We’re a relatively young team and we still have a lot to learn,” said forward Rudy Gay, who has played in 12 games since coming to the Kings from Toronto. “The older guys that came here with me – I mean along with Quincy (Acy); Quincy’s young, too, but he plays a lot of minutes for us. Myself and Aaron Gray, we haven’t been here long enough to assert ourselves defensively or even help some of the older guys. It’s tough to be a part of a trade like that, but we have to make something happen.”
It’s one thing to give up a lot of points to a high-scoring team like Portland, which comes to town Tuesday. But Saturday’s loss to Charlotte was especially disheartening because the Bobcats, who entered the game as the league’s worst shooting team, shot a season-high 54.2 percent and were on target from the start.
The Kings must improve their man-to-man and team defenses to avoid digging themselves a big hole early as they’ve done the past two games.
“I think that we’ve got to look at the film,” said forward Jason Thompson. “Try and make adjustments ... guys can’t shoot that high percentage, especially early on in the game at home in our building.”