If you’re struggling on offense, the Kings are the team to play.
And as long as the Kings continue to wait a quarter, or a half, to start playing defense, the results will be the same.
The Kings lost their fourth consecutive game, 121-117 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at FedExForum.
Sacramento received a scare late when All-Star DeMarcus Cousins hobbled off the court with 2:02 to play, unable to put weight on his left foot after Memphis center Marc Gasol rolled into him while on the floor. But X-rays were negative, and he was diagnosed with a left ankle sprain.
Cousins said he would be fine, but what’s not fine is the Kings’ performance lately. They allow teams to get going on offense at the outset, then have to fight their way back into the game.
The Kings nearly pulled off a huge comeback from 22 down. Darren Collison scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and he banked in a three-pointer with 18.7 seconds to play to close the gap to 118-117.
But with the Kings trailing 120-117, the Grizzlies’ Jeff Green stole the ball from Collison, sealing the outcome.
“We make still make a lot of silly mistakes,” Cousins said. “We come out and the effort isn’t there; the energy isn’t there early in games. We kind of allow teams to do what they want throughout the game and then we realize we’re down 20 and try to turn it on. We can’t continue to do that.”
The Kings gave up 36 points in the first quarter, setting the tone for their struggles on defense most of the night.
“At times our defense was way too soft for this game,” coach George Karl said. “Memphis is going to be a very physical team and if you don’t match their physicality, they usually feel pretty confident and cocky.”
Memphis scored a season-high 65 points in the first half and shot 51.9 percent for the game.
“It’s on us as players to try to fix this issue,” Cousins said. “And if not, we’re going to continue to have the same kind of season.”
When the Kings racked up five consecutive wins this month, they didn’t play like the team that allows the most points per game in the league. They held opponents to an average of 96.4 points during the winning streak.
Since the second quarter of Monday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets, the Kings have reverted to the lax defense that has plagued them most of the season.
The Kings entered Saturday allowing a league-high 107.9 points per game. The Grizzlies were averaging 96.9 points and surpassed that with 10:55 to play on a three-pointer by Green, who had a game-high 29 points.
“We are already able to score points, but if we can get a defensive balance that creates our offense, we will be so much better than we are,” Karl said. “I think too many nights we try to play a high level of offense, which we can do, but when you have those moments when you miss Rudy (Gay to an injury) or there’s a guy out or you don’t have a good shooting night, we don’t have that reliance right now that we can win a game with our defense, which we were doing prior to that in a lot of games.”
Gay led the Kings with 21 points, and Cousins finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Kings’ next game
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Opponent: vs. Milwaukee
- TV/radio: CSNCA, 1140