Selfish play dooms Kings again

Published: Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014 - 9:53 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 - 6:56 am

Kings coach Michael Malone had a “hard time sitting through” his team’s latest effort in which the idea of playing for each other was non-existent most of the night.

“Right now, what I see on both ends of the floor is the disease of ‘me,’ ” Malone said. “I think we’re becoming a selfish basketball team on both ends.”

There was plenty of evidence to support that in the Kings’ latest loss, 104-89 to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Sunday night. The Kings matched their season low with 11 assists, were slow to help each other on defense and committed a season-high 24 turnovers.

“Eleven assists in a 48-minute game is absurd,” Malone said.

The Kings have lost their past two games playing this way. Malone said he’s not going to change his starting lineup or rotation, but he will be searching for combinations that will be unselfish.

“The turnovers and selfish play is what’s hurting us right now,” said center DeMarcus Cousins. “Coach is right, we’re not playing for one another right now. We’re playing for ourselves. We’re not going to win games playing that way.”

Sharing the ball and playing efficiently on offense is key for a Kings team that is not equipped to win low-scoring games. Sacramento is 3-23 when scoring fewer than 100 points.

Cousins said Malone’s message is consistent, but the players aren’t taking heed.

“When that’s being said, it’s more like, ‘that’s not pertaining to me,’ ” Cousins said. “And I feel like everybody should take what’s being said in some type of way and apply it to themselves and ask themselves, ‘How can I make my teammate better this game?’ When we do that, I feel like we’ll take a step forward.”

The Kings did that in their last win in Milwaukee, which has the worst record in the NBA. In consecutive games against teams with winning records, the Kings reverted to a style that usually ends in a loss.

“We were unselfish (in Milwaukee),” Malone said “... I think what happens is we win playing the right way and then some guys want to get back to getting their numbers and that maybe leads to guys not playing the right way.”

Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas said in Toronto the Kings (22-41) seem to play the wrong way after wins, too. Players try to score on the first pass instead of looking for a better shot. Or they force things and give the ball to the opponent.

“Guys are trying to do it on their own,” Thomas said. “I guess that’s what happens when you’re on a young team that’s losing. When adversity hits, guys kind of go their separate ways, and the last two games it’s definitely felt that way.”

Cousins had 28 points and 20 rebounds but also had six turnovers. Thomas matched his career high with seven turnovers. Rudy Gay had 20 points but no assists.

The Kings also got little production from their reserves. Brooklyn’s bench outscored Sacramento’s 59-19.

Leading the way for the Nets (31-30) was former King Marcus Thornton, who scored a team-high 27 points. It was Thornton’s first time playing against the Kings since being traded to Brooklyn for Reggie Evans and Jason Terry last month.

Brooklyn scored 28 points off Kings turnovers and shot 53.2 percent.

“We’ve just got to take care of the ball, including myself,” Thomas said. “It’s not a good thing. We’re just giving them extra possessions, especially good teams that don’t need extra possessions. We’re giving it up, just because of our turnovers. And on top of that, we’re not the best defensive team and we’re giving up things they like to do and it’s hurting us.”

VIDEO: Thornton torches former teammates


Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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