There wasn’t exactly discord in the Kings’ locker room following this loss. But the code words for problems that haunt bad teams were flowing.
Talk of the need to play for each other, not break off plays and more discipline were themes following a disastrous fourth quarter that led to a 106-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.
It was the sixth consecutive defeat for the Kings, who dropped all four games on their homestand. The losing streak is also a season worst. The Kings have also had a five-game losing streak this season.
The Kings had outscored the Lakers in the first three quarters before falling apart in the fourth.
They were outscored 25-13 in the final period, including a 13-3 run over the final 3:35 that started with the Kings leading 97-93.
The Kings led 87-81 to start the fourth and allowed the Lakers to open the period on a 7-0 run.
“You always want to close quarters the right way and start quarters the right way,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “... We don’t do a great job to start that quarter and we allow teams to get back in when hopefully in the future we can create space and create distance on those teams.
“You can’t allow teams to have hope.”
DeMarcus Cousins took a deep breath before talking about the many things that went wrong in the fourth quarter.
“Breaking plays,” Cousins said. “Just anything we could have done wrong we probably did it down the stretch.”
The Kings matched season lows for points and field goals made (four) for a quarter in the final 12 minutes. The Kings shot 4 for 17 and committed seven turnovers.
“We didn’t execute,” said guard Isaiah Thomas. “That’s what it’s been the whole season – we don’t execute. It feels like everybody wants to do it on their own when it’s time to execute, not to point any fingers. We’ve got to come together in those times and play as one.”
The Kings committed four turnovers in the final three minutes, including three in a row that began when Cousins had the ball stolen by Pau Gasol with the Lakers up 98-97 with 1:18 to play.
That led to a 3-pointer by Jodie Meeks to give the Lakers a 101-97 lead.
The Kings followed that up with turnovers on their next two possessions by Ben McLemore and Cousins again.
“We didn’t execute well down the stretch, turned it over,” Cousins said. “I believe I had three during the (fourth quarter) myself. Just a bad, bad, stretch at the end of the game. We definitely beat ourselves.”
The Lakers were playing their last game before Kobe Bryant returns from an Achilles’ injury Sunday. They were also without backup point guard Jordan Farmar.
But again, the Kings had problems containing Steve Blake (13 points, 10 assists) and too many times the Lakers were left open for jumpers.
“We’ve got to talk defensively,” said guard Greivis Vasquez. “We’ve got to find a way to care about each other on defense and offense. When we do that we look like a good team. when we don’t do that we lose games like we lost (Friday night).”
The Kings don’t have time to sulk. They play at Utah tonight.
“Each and every guy here should take it personal and try to get a win (tonight),” Vasquez said.
Cousins returned the lineup after sitting out Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma City with a sprained right ankle. Cousins had 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Thomas had 14 points and nine assists. Thomas was scoreless with two assists after halftime.
McLemore, the rookie shooting guard, had a new season high with 20 points.
All five Lakers starters scored in double figures led by Gasol with 19 points.