It was an odd scene, but with the Kings, what’s odd has been the norm for years.
If you’re familiar with rap superstar Drake and his sports fandom, it’s clear he’s usually around winning teams.
But here was Drake, after being escorted to the Kings locker room by majority owner Vivek Ranadive, so he could chat with Kings players such as Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins, who both played for Kentucky, Drake’s favorite college basketball team.
It was a different type of postgame talk after a very familiar result. The Kings were blown out by the San Antonio Spurs, 106-88, Monday night at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings are 1-7 and have lost six in a row. This time the Kings fell apart in the fourth quarter and were outscored 34-19.
Again, the Kings’ defense did little to slow down an opponent, which has been the case often this season. The lineups were unpredictable again as the group that started the game didn’t start the second half.
Cousins, who missed the previous four games with a strained right Achilles’ tendon, was asked if he learned anything about the team while injured.
“Everything I can’t really speak on,” Cousins said. “We got some issues that we got to carve out. Can’t really speak on that. But one thing is, us players, we got to stick together. And just with that, that’ll get us through most battles. We got some issues in-house we need to figure out.”
Cousins was asked if these were issues that could be fixed before the Kings host Detroit on Wednesday.
“Can’t answer that,” he said.
Are these on-court issues?
“Not at all,” Cousins said.
Cousins was asked if the Kings needed a players-only meeting.
“It’ll be a players-only meeting,” Cousins said. “… Just to make it clear I believe in every single person in this room. We just got to stay together. That part I’m not worried about. But there are issues we need to figure out.”
Cousins was asked if the issues would be fixed with a few wins.
“I feel like when those issues are fixed, the winning will come,” Cousins said.
Evidently the Kings have problems that require more than a visit from Drake to fix.
Sacramento has given up 100 points or more in every game this season. The Spurs shot 52.9 percent.
The inability to settle on a lineup has bothered players, too.
The Kings started Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Rudy Gay, James Anderson and Rajon Rondo. The Kings have used a different starting lineup in the last six games and seven different starting lineups overall.
Anderson was benched to start the second half and did not re-enter. Ben McLemore went from the doghouse to starting the second half.
“It’s different lineups, man, so people we haven’t necessarily played with before and it’s tough,” Gay said. “Not just on the people that do play, it’s tough on everybody. The guys that do come in and try to fill in the pieces. And we have a lot of young people who are expected to do a lot of things. We just have to be better.”
Kings coach George Karl said he liked what he saw from McLemore in the first half.
“I just thought Ben had good energy in the first half,” Karl said. “I thought Marco (Belinelli) was going to play most of the minutes at two, and so I thought whatever minutes I had left I wanted to give to Ben.”
In his first game back, Cousins missed 15 of his 20 shots, but led the Kings with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Rondo played all 48 minutes with backups Darren Collison and Seth Curry injured, and ended up with a season-high nine turnovers to go with eight points and 12 assists.
Karl was asked if Cousins looked rusty.
“Right now I think we all … the way the fourth quarter disintegrated, everybody has to take some blame for that,” Karl said.
Karl was also asked about the mood of the locker room. The optimism from preseason is being overtaken by the frustration the Kings have only one win.
“Right now it’s probably a little angry and frustrated and confused,” Karl said. “Fortunately we have a day tomorrow to straighten that out and get back on track.”