No one with the Kings is interested in moral victories.
So the refrain during their six-game losing streak that they at least showed resiliency by overcoming deficits to make games competitive is getting old.
It’s time to do more than rally to make the final score respectable, and the Kings hope to start with Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.
The streak is the Kings’ longest of the season, and they have trailed by double digits in four of the losses. In the other two games, they were unable to hold late leads.
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In the two most recent losses, to Brooklyn and at Golden State, the Kings fell behind by large margins in the first quarter. Against the Nets, the Kings fought back from a 23-point deficit before losing 103-100. Against the Warriors, the Kings overcame an early 18-point deficit to take the lead early in the second half before Klay Thompson’s record-setting 37-point third quarter led the Warriors to a 126-101 victory.
“We’ve got to make sure we come out to a better start,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We have to make sure we come out here ready to go, especially out here on the road. You can’t afford to get yourself down double figures and expect to fight back all the time and have enough fuel to finish the game.”
The Kings have been unable to pinpoint why they sometimes take a quarter or more to get going, and it hasn’t always been the first quarter. They’ve also had stretches in which they’ve come out flat after halftime, too.
“Better self-urgency and just coming out of the gate and really getting after it on the defensive end,” guard Darren Collison said. “The last couple of games, we’ve been really slow at the defensive end and then we start picking it up.”
After Friday’s loss to the Warriors, center DeMarcus Cousins said it was time for everyone to “do their job” and be ready at the start every game.
Corbin acknowledged some teams have a tendency to start slow, but he said the Kings need to change if they are to win more often.
“We want to do a better job of not being that kind of group,” Corbin said. “We’ve shown we can get back in the game and have a chance. But it takes a lot out of us.”
The slow starts and passive defense are about execution, and Collison said the problem isn’t with only one player, that everyone needs to do a better job of communicating, especially on defense.
“It’s collectively on our effort as a group; we’ve got to pick it up,” Collison said. “There’s no one individual. Of course, me, DeMarcus and Rudy (Gay) are the leaders. We’ve just got to do a better job of stepping up.”
The lack of energy at the start of games during the losing streak might be the Kings’ biggest concern. There have been times early in games when they have looked slow defensively and appear to be trying to make up for it by rushing the offense, which leads to turnovers.
“You get yourself down, and whatever you’re doing scheme-wise, if you come out without any energy, the plays don’t work,” Corbin said. “So we have to make sure we come out with energy and focus and ready to work.”
Monday’s game at New York was postponed because of the expected blizzard, so the Kings will have had four days off before playing the Raptors, who met the Pacers in Indiana on Tuesday night.
With that much rest, the Kings should be able to start the game full of vigor.
“We should be a little more energized,” Collison said. “We should be ready to go.”