Through 13 games, the Kings have struggled with their shooting on most nights.
Even when playing a team not noted for its defense, they’ve had trouble from the floor.
That was the case Sunday night as the Kings lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 100-86 at Staples Center. The loss was their second straight after they had won their previous two games.
The Kings (4-9) shot 50 percent in the first half before a miserable third quarter ended their hopes of beating the Lakers (7-7). In the third, the Kings ended up being a defensive highlight for the Lakers, scoring 13 points on 5-of-20 shooting. That was the lowest point total in a quarter by a Lakers opponent this season. Sacramento’s 61 points through three quarters also were the fewest the Lakers had allowed this season.
After trailing by 13 in the first half, the Kings were behind 57-55 with 10:17 left in the third before their offense went cold.
“That was the game right there,” said Kings guard Greivis Vasquez. “I thought in the third quarter we played good basketball. We got it down to two, but then we had a couple of turnovers which game them momentum and they scored a couple of easy baskets on us, and that was the game to me.”
The Kings’ final total was just a point above their season low. It came against a Lakers team that was allowing 103.2 points per game.
“The shots will fall,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “I’m going to remain confident that the guys that are missing right now will make them eventually.”
That’s been a season-long hope for Malone. The Kings have managed to shoot better than 45 percent four times through 13 games and entered Sunday’s game shooting 42.6 percent, 23rd in the NBA.
“They really weren’t doing anything to stop us,” said guard Ben McLemore. “But I think it was just the fact that we weren’t making shots and we weren’t making plays and things like that.”
Malone liked his team’s shot selection, adding he’s liked the shots the Kings have taken most of the season and that he’ll continue to be patient.
Malone also said the Kings cannot allow missing shots to affect their defense and that defense “has to get our offense going and get us easy buckets.”
“The shots that Patrick (Patterson) gets, that John (Salmons) gets, they’re high-percentage shots that are open,” Malone said. “They’re not forced. (Sunday) we had 24 assists and we only shot (41.7) percent. I think we’re getting good looks. It’s just a matter of stepping in and making them. Not many times on the bench have I felt we were forcing shots or taking contested shots.”
Vasquez had his best scoring game as a King with 20 points to go with seven assists.
DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting and added eight rebounds and seven assists.
Vasquez said there’s no need to panic about the offense.
“We’re getting good shots,” Vasquez said. “If you watched the game, you saw how many good shots we had. We had wide-open shots. Patrick had a couple open shots he usually hits; I.T. (Isaiah Thomas) had a couple he usually hits. It’ll come; it’ll come. We just have to be patient and keep on working.”
Thomas, the Kings’ second-leading scorer, finished with nine points. That ended his streak of 12 consecutive games scoring in double figures off the bench, a Sacramento record to start a season.
McLemore had 15 points for Sacramento and was cited by Malone as one of the positives from the game.
Xavier Henry led the Lakers with 21 points off the bench. Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Steve Blake added nine points and 12 assists.