Well before the final buzzer, the Kings looked like a defeated team.
Their body language told the story in a 117-91 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.
The Kings never led or looked into the game against the spry Bucks, who jumped on them early with a barrage of 3-pointers from Mirza Teletovic, who made four of his career-high-tying seven 3s in the first quarter.
Each Teletovic shot appeared to be a punch to the psyche of a team that has lost four in a row on its five-game trip that ends Sunday at Toronto.
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The Kings are 2-5. The defense they harped on before the season is faltering. Their offense often lacks pace and flow as the Kings search for a way to rejuvenate themselves after beginning the trip all smiles after a win last Saturday over Minnesota at Golden 1 Center.
“We’ve got to stay together,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger.
“We’ve got to stay positive. We need some life. Our bench needs some life; our guys on the floor need some life. We’re going through a tough time. (Milwaukee) is a good team. Right now, they’re better (than Sacramento).”
The Kings failed to win the rebounding battle for the sixth time in seven games, 53-36. They were crushed in fast-break points, 26-1.
The Kings gave up 29 points off turnovers. The Bucks shot 50.0 percent for the game, Sacramento 39.3 percent.
And much of the night, the Kings looked like a team that was being dominated. The Bucks were quicker to loose balls and active in passing lanes.
“It felt like they were playing and we didn’t have a pop to our game,” said Sacramento forward Omri Casspi. “We were slow stepping behind them, and they take advantage of that.”
The Kings aren’t supposed to have these kind of problems. Not with All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and veterans added to help keep perspective when things go bad.
After all, the Kings are just seven games into the season, but the message of staying positive and sticking together already needs to be delivered.
“We’ve got to be veterans about it,” said guard Garrett Temple. “ ... If it was the first, second or even third year for (most of) us, it would be understandable. We’ve got a lot of veterans on this team that understand this is a game of runs. It’s a long game, like it’s a long season. ... You have to understand it’s a long game.”
Rudy Gay (strained rib cartilage) missed the game, so it seemed natural Cousins would look to have a big night. He had 15 points but went scoreless in the second half and had a team-worst plus-minus of minus-25.
After the game, Cousins politely declined to talk to the media.
Temple led the Kings with 19 points.
Teletovic led Milwaukee with 22 points, and Jabari Parker had 19. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals in three quarters of action.
“We can’t keep hanging our heads down when a team makes a run, especially on the road,” Casspi said. “They made some tough shots, some long 3s – it happens. A team makes a shot, and we’ve got our heads down, and we never came back from that.”
Temple said the Kings have to must remember to keep things in perspective.
“We still have 75 games left to play,” Temple said. “It’s a mater of us understanding the things like that, understanding guys are going to make runs and we’ve got to stick together. If they hit tough 3s, we can’t compound that by making turnovers and giving them easy buckets.”