As often seems to be the case lately, the Kings found themselves in a tough spot and were explaining why it never should have come down to that.
Slow start, bad shot selection, turnovers. The Kings had all their familiar problems against the Celtics on Friday at TD Garden as they fell 97-92 for their second straight loss and dropped to 1-2 on their five-game trip.
Still, the Kings had a chance to force overtime trailing 95-92 with 9.7 seconds to play.
DeMarcus Cousins caught the ball beyond the 3-point line and tried to go at Boston center Al Horford. The result was a blocked shot for Horford that cemented the Kings’ loss.
“I knew how Al Horford was going to guard me,” Cousins said. “He’s been hands-on the entire game. I don’t really understand how it was a no-call, but that’s what they went with. I guess it turns out it was a bad decision on my part.”
Kings coach Dave Joerger said the Kings had different options after a timeout depending on whether Boston came out in a zone or man-to-man defense.
“It just didn’t work out for us,” Joerger said.
Rudy Gay said the fact that the Kings were even in that position was the problem.
“We needed a 3,” Gay said. “Cuz had the ball; he thought he got fouled. It was a tough shot anyway. We put ourselves in that position. We shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
So how did the Kings get in that position?
They fell behind by 13 in the first quarter, but thanks to the second unit, managed to tie the score 29-29. They became predictable on offense at times or relied on bad shots to bail them out.
“In general, they’re a good team and everything, but we just shot ourselves in the foot,” Joerger said. “We turned the (darn) thing over like I have never seen (15 times). We take bad shots sometimes, and it just ticks me off at bad times. (It’s) stuff we know we’ve got to get better at. We know we’re not a bunch of rookies; we can get better. We’ll keep plugging away.”
When asked if he had a solution for Sacramento’s slow starts, Joerger was concise.
“No,” he said.
He’s changed lineups, and the Kings continue to use the first part of the game to warm up rather than get going. So it’s the players’ responsibility to figure it out.
“We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and hold ourselves accountable,” Cousins said. “If you know you’re not giving it 100 percent at the beginning of the game, you’re the issue – myself and everybody else in here included. So it’s on us.
“It’s almost like we have to get hit first for us to react. That has kind of been the struggle the whole year. It’s not good for us. We’re in the situation where we have to be the aggressive team every night.”
Matt Barnes said regardless of who is starting, the Kings need “energy.”
“When tipoff starts, the game starts,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t start six minutes in, it doesn’t start in the second quarter – it starts when the ball’s thrown up.”
Horford led Boston (11-8) with 26 points. He also had eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and six blocks. Isaiah Thomas shot only 6 of 21 but finished with 20 points.
Cousins scored a game-high 28 points but shot 10 of 26. He also had nine rebounds. Barnes led the Kings with 16 rebounds. Gay and Darren Collison each had 13 points.