The Kings were undermanned against a superior team, but all too often they doom themselves with mistakes that have nothing to do with talent.
The latest example came Tuesday night during their 107-92 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Sleep Train Arena.
Entering the game, the Kings were allowing opponents to shoot 37.8 percent from three-point range, the second-highest percentage in the NBA. And after watching Oklahoma City reserve Caron Butler make all six of his three-point attempts, Kings coach Michael Malone was perplexed.
Sometimes you wonder if guys have a feel for the game, if guys realize that Caron Butler was 4 for 4 from three in the first half and he goes 6 for 6 for the game, Malone said. But we have guys that continue to guard him like he hasnt made a shot the whole night. Whether its a lack of a basketball IQ or not a feel for the game, I dont know. Im not exactly sure what it is. But it continues to happen, and a lot of nights it continues to happen to the same people. So those are things well look at in the offseason.
Before the Kings (27-51) reach the offseason, they must deal with another problem inexplicable lapses in energy. The problem usually arises to start games, and that was the case as the Thunder (56-21) jumped out to a 9-0 lead.
The Kings managed to stay in the game, trailing 85-77 entering the fourth quarter. But they went scoreless for the first 5:59 of the fourth as Oklahoma Citys bench went on a 13-0 run to pull away.
I didnt want to say it to knock the players on their bench, but I mean its the truth, DeMarcus Cousins said. It was our starting unit against their bench, and they went on a 13-0 run. So thats just completely unacceptable.
Ray McCallum, Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams, Quincy Acy and Jason Thompson started the fourth quarter for the Kings. Of those five, Acy and Williams werent in the starting lineup.
I thought the guys who started the fourth quarter were just bad, 13-0 run, Malone said. We had some guys that just played with no energy. Looked like they didnt want to be out there to be honest with you. Its disappointing.
Derek Fisher, Jeremy Lamb, Nick Collison, Jeremy Lamb and Butler put the game away for the Thunder while Kevin Durant sat out the fourth quarter. He finished with 23 points, ending his streak of games with at least 25 points at 41, the third longest streak in NBA history.
The Kings had only nine players available because of injuries to Isaiah Thomas (quadriceps), Rudy Gay (back) and Reggie Evans (back). But Malone said fatigue was not an excuse for the fourth-quarter performance.
Not at all, Malone said. The guys that were fatigued were Travis (Outlaw) and DeMarcus.
Outlaw, starting for Gay, had season highs of 24 points and four assists.
Cousins had 24 points and 14 rebounds for his 50th double double of the season. That tied Chris Webber for the most in a season in Sacramento history. Webber had 50 double doubles in 2000-01.