If the Kings were compiling a ranking of their worst losses of the season, there would be a few worthy of the top spot.
The Kings can look at their 12 losses and point to several examples of things they’ve done to contribute to their own defeat.
From blowing 20-plus-point leads (twice) to piling up mistakes late in games recently, the Kings have shot themselves in the foot so often that it’s made the defeats all that more painful.
The Kings have lost their past two games after leading by double digits and seemingly on their way to victory. The Kings learned the hard way that until they tighten up their execution, they’ll be adding to their worst-loss list.
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“I know for a coach, and I grew up the son of a coach, you remember the losses a lot more than you do the wins,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “The losses stay with you. And these last two losses haven’t been fun and it consumes me.”
Tuesday in Los Angeles, it was missed free throws, offensive rebounds by the Lakers and poor execution on offense that led to Sacramento’s demise. Thursday against the Houston Rockets, the Kings led by 12 in the second half and five with less than a minute to play before breakdowns led to an eventual overtime loss.
“Back-to-back losses where we’ve controlled it but you’ve given the game away,” Malone said. “The first thing I do when I watch film is (ask myself) what could I have done differently, how could I have helped them more.”
Malone was critical of himself Thursday for not making the adjustments needed to slow down James Harden, who finished with 44 points. In other cases, Malone has said he needs to be better at putting the Kings in better positions on offense to get more fluidity and not rely on dribbling and one-on-one play.
How the players deal with the losses is probably more important. Malone might take losing harder than any of his players at times, but usually bounces back with a little more perspective a day later.
“It’s very tough – we’ve got to find ways to finish,” Jason Thompson said after Thursday’s loss. “We’ve just got to find ways to know how we get leads and not worry about the scoreboard and just keep building on it rather than being complacent and letting the other team have a chance to get back into the game.”
Then there’s the recurring turnover theme where the Kings practically give away games.
“The reality is, we’ve lost 12 games, and in our losses we’ve given up (21.4) points a game off turnovers,” Malone said, whose team allows 14.5 points per game off turnovers in its victories.
The reason Malone harps on that statistic so much is because Sacramento isn’t likely to begin rolling over teams with DeMarcus Cousins (viral meningitis) still on the mend.
“We’re going to be in that situation again,” Malone said. “Especially without DeMarcus, the talent level that we have, we’re not going to blow a lot of teams out.”
So until Cousins returns, the Kings still have to find a way to prevent the kind of losses they’ve had lately.
“We don’t want to be too hard on ourselves,” said forward Derrick Williams. “I think we know that we’re kind of beating ourselves with the turnovers. Most of the time, it’s not even them beating us like that. We’ve just got to cut down our turnovers and stop beating ourselves.”
Et cetera – Cousins had a light workout with assistant coach Corliss Williamson after Friday’s practice but did not take part in any team activities. Malone said that in a best-case scenario, Cousins could return to practice sometime next week. He’s missed the last eight games.
▪ Forward Omri Casspi (left knee bone contusion) is expected to be available tonight against Detroit after missing Thursday’s game.
▪ The Kings reassigned rookie forward Eric Moreland to the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League. Moreland is averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, two blocks and 1.8 steals in five games for the Bighorns.