The Kings were booed off the floor following another third-quarter collapse in a 118-111 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. The Kings have lost five in a row to start the season for the first time since 1990-91, when they finished 25-57 under coach Dick Motta.
Buddy Hield scored 23 points for the Kings (0-5). Harrison Barnes had 22 points and seven rebounds. Hield, De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic combined to make 18 of 52 field-goal attempts and 10 of 32 from 3-point range.
P.J. Washington had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Hornets (2-3), who had lost three in a row.
The Kings led 66-61 at the half, but they were outscored 32-18 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter. The Kings were tied or leading at halftime in four of their first five games, but they’ve been outscored in the third quarter of all five contests by an average of 10.8 points. They have now been outscored 153-99 in third-quarter play.
“It’s something we don’t want to blow up too much and now we’re in our own heads every time we come out of halftime,” Kings coach Luke Walton said before the game. “But it is something to be aware of and make sure we’re mindful of the fact that we have to come out and be ready to go and have better third quarters because right now they’ve been pretty bad for us.”
Walton made a bold move Wednesday, starting Richaun Holmes over Dewayne Dedmon at center. Dedmon started the first four games after signing a three-year, $40 million contract with the Kings over the summer, but he has been outplayed by Holmes, who came to Sacramento on a two-year, $10 million deal.
Holmes brought energy and life to the team in Monday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, coming off the bench to post 24 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots. He continued to produce in his first start for the Kings, posting 17 points and nine rebounds.
Dedmon did not play in the first half. He finally checked in with 4:13 to play in the third quarter after Holmes picked up his fourth foul. He finished with one rebound in four minutes.
“It doesn’t matter who starts,” Walton said. “It really doesn’t. We’re a team. Some nights it’s going to be different people. We don’t have one set starting lineup. Whether it’s injury or we feel like we need something else or maybe it’s a matchup thing, that lineup will change. Everyone knows they need to be ready and we’ll continue to do what we feel is best for our group.”
Advanced statistics painted a bleak picture of the Kings over the first four games of the season. They were at or near the bottom of the NBA in almost every category, including 25th in pace at 101.38, 27th in defensive rating at 113.3, 29th in offensive rating at 94.3 and 30th in net rating at minus-19.
The Hornets have endured their own struggles so far this season, losing three of their first four games. They beat the Chicago Bulls 126-125 before losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers by an average of 18.7 points per game. Going into Wednesday’s game, the Hornets were 29th in the NBA in net rating at minus-13.3.
Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule
Nov. 1 vs. Utah Jazz
Nov. 3 at New York Knicks
Nov. 6 at Toronto Raptors
Nov. 8 at Atlanta Hawks
Nov. 12 vs. Portland