The fix to all their woes sounds so simple when you talk to the Kings – just play hard for the entire 48 minutes.
But the Kings cannot seem to put the words into action, as was the case again Wednesday night in a 103-100 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings (16-26) suffered their fifth consecutive defeat, matching their worst losing streak this season. They began the game looking disinterested on defense and watched as the Nets ran by them for easy baskets.
Brooklyn made 14 of its first 19 shots and shot 55.6 percent in the first half.
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“We were slow in getting back,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We were slow in communicating the matching-up parts of it, and they were able to drive mismatches and score in the paint.”
The Nets had plenty of high-percentage looks in the first half, scoring 38 points in the paint on 19-for-30 shooting. In the first quarter, the Nets had a 22-2 advantage in points in the paint, making 11 of 14 shots.
“We just didn’t have any energy,” Kings guard Darren Collison said. “We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to help each other. We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to communicate every single time. We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to play with the defensive intensity every single time. Until we do those three things, we won’t be a good basketball team.”
The 38 paint points were the most by a Kings opponent in a half this season, surpassing the 36 set twice, most recently by Dallas on Jan. 13. The 22 paint points in the first quarter tied the most allowed by the Kings in a quarter. Golden State had 22 in the second quarter Dec. 22.
The Nets went ahead by 23 points in the first half as fans booed the Kings.
Sacramento held Brooklyn to 41 points in the second half, but that wasn’t enough to overcome the lack of fight in the first half.
The performance left the Kings again talking about needing to play with more effort.
“Be a professional,” center DeMarcus Cousins said. “Come to work ready to play, everybody, myself included. The solution is easy. Come out and play hard from start to finish.”
Why the Kings fail to do that is something no one seems to be able to answer. It’s been a problem for more than a month.
In 18 games under Corbin, the Kings are 5-13, and their defensive focus and effort have been issues more times than not.
“It’s disappointing,” Collison said. “It’s something you should just want to be. You should be a guy that’s excited to play defensively and have that effort and play for the team.”
Cousins said Wednesday’s loss was no more painful than any of the others.
“They’re all the same,” Cousins said. “A loss is a loss, and I hate it.”
The Nets (18-24) had lost eight of their last nine, but they got on track against the Kings.
Brook Lopez led the way for Brooklyn with 22 points and six blocks. Jarrett Jack had 16 points and eight assists, and Joe Johnson added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Cousins led Sacramento with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Rudy Gay had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Cousins said he’s getting tired talking about the Kings’ need to step up on defense.
“It’s like a broken record,” Cousins said. “Honestly, I get tired of y’all asking me questions because you’re going to get the same answer.”
Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.