NEW ORLEANS -- One thing the Kings hadn’t struggled with most games over the last month was scoring.
Then came the current six-game trip.
Sacramento is 1-3 on the trip, with the constant in each loss being the inability to score at least 100 points. The Kings are 13-13 when scoring at least 100 points and 1-12 when being held under 100.
Sacramento has scored fewer than 100 points only four times in the 19 games since Rudy Gay joined the starting lineup, but three occasions have come in the last week.
Some of that can be attributed to tough competition, but the Kings have contributed with turnovers, a lack of passing and poor execution of sets.
Perhaps the biggest problem is a lack of trust – in the offense and each other to carry out the play.
“We’re not trusting the offense, doing a lot of one-on-one and breaking the plays,” guard Isaiah Thomas said. “If we trust our offense a little bit more, get stops and get out in transition, that makes it easier for us to get easy buckets and score over 100.”
Kings coach Michael Malone said the team must be more unselfish. That’s not limited to passing. Malone also wants the players to set screens to get teammates open, space the floor, and rebound and defend to create offense.
“If the play isn’t for me, I still have a job to do,” Malone said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Part of running a good offense is the sacrifice Malone wants to see from the Kings. When a player has the ball, Malone doesn’t want players standing within five feet of him waiting for the ball, which only makes the Kings easier to defend and leads to turnovers.
“To me, good offense is all about timing, spacing, setting screens, using screens,” Malone said. “A lot of times, our spacing is poor, and if the play isn’t for ‘me,’ then we don’t get to the right spot, which makes it hard for the guy that we’re trying to feature.”
The Kings have lost their last 12 games when scoring under 100 points. The only win when failing to top 100 points came in the season opener.
Gay said the Kings need more discipline to fix their offensive problems.
“When things don’t seem like they work, a lot of guys will take it upon themselves,” Gay said. “Good teams don’t do that.”
Sacramento certainly is not a good team when its offense isn’t working. The team isn’t set up to be a defensive force, so it must score at a high rate to give itself the best chance of winning.
But when the Kings break off their offense or settle for quick shots, they usually end up with bad shots that lead to easy fast-break chances for their opponents.
“If we come down and don’t move the defense (with passes), we come down and take quick one-pass or zero-pass jump shots, the defense is not working,” Malone said. “And we’re probably taking less-percentage shots and shots that are contested.”
Malone is also concerned about turnovers. The Kings are 7-15 when committing 15 or more turnovers and had 20 in their loss Sunday in Oklahoma City.
Sacramento is averaging 17 turnovers in the three losses on the trip.
Giving the ball away has prevented the Kings from finding their rhythm and flow on offense.
“We have to get back to playing our pace,” Malone said. “That means we have to rebound, we have to value the basketball, and we have to move the basketball. When we value the ball and move the ball, we have no problem scoring it.”