DeMarcus Cousins said there’s one person to blame for what happened to the Kings on Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena – him.
“I could have played better – that’s the bottom line,” Cousins said. “I completely played like (expletive). When I have nights like this, we don’t have a great chance of winning. I definitely take the blame. I was horrible tonight. Absolutely horrible.”
Horrible is one way to describe the final 12 minutes of Sacramento’s 104-84 loss to the Utah Jazz, the Kings’ second consecutive loss and fifth in the last six games. It was a season low for points scored by Sacramento, thanks to its dreadful fourth quarter.
The Kings trailed by two entering the fourth quarter only to be held to a season-low eight points in a final period.
Coach Dave Joerger mentioned tired legs. The Kings were playing the second night of a back-to-back games against a Utah team that is always tough at home.
“DeMarcus looks like he’s carrying a 50-pound weight around,” Joerger said. “He looks exhausted. Guys gave it what they had – we just didn’t make enough shots.”
Cousins played a team-high 33 minutes Saturday but wouldn’t use fatigue as an excuse for shooting 7 of 22, in scoring 16 points to go with 10 rebounds and four assists.
Cousins was on the court to start the fourth quarter when the game quickly got away from the Kings.
“It’s the same mistakes that’s been hurting us most of the year,” Cousins said. “Defensive breakdowns, second-chance points, same things.”
The Kings forced 22 turnovers for 36 points but still lost by 20. That’s because they broke down too often, being outrebounded 54-34, and allowed the Jazz to make 13 of 29 3-point attempts.
The Kings also relied on the kind of offense that’s proven not to work for them. “Stagnant” was the word mentioned again, and it comes up after many of the losses. And when the Kings are bad on offense, it tends to spill over to the defense.
“We didn’t get good shots,” said guard Garrett Temple. “Offensively, we didn’t run much. If we did run something, we didn’t execute – we didn’t take great shots ... We let that affect our defense, and defensively we didn’t talk, didn’t communicate didn’t do what we’re supposed to do in terms of the game plan.”
The Kings’ best chance of winning is with ball movement, player movement and a good tempo that keeps everyone engaged.
Utah is one of the NBA’s better defensive teams, but Darren Collison said it’s not a matter of opponents forcing the Kings back into bad habits.
“It’s all on us,” Collison said. “It’s not what the other team does; it’s all on us. If we want to play together as a team, that’s something that’s self-willing, and that’s something that we’re struggling with right now.”
Collison also said the Kings cannot use fatigue as an excuse for their struggles.
“It can be factor, but the whole NBA plays under the same circumstance, so that’s no excuse,” Collison said. “We’ve got to come out here and perform, and we didn’t.”
Utah center Rudy Gobert had a lot to do with how the Kings played.
“He’s a big body, and credit to him – he had a great game,” Cousins said. “I can’t say anything; he had a great game.”
Goberte had 17 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high six blocked shots. Gordon Hayward led Utah (15-10) with a game-high 26 points.
Rudy Gay led the Kings (8-15) with 20 points. Collison added 17.