Kings Blog

Kings come alive in the second half

Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) makes a shot against Maccabi Haifa of Israel during a preseason game on Saturday, October, 18, 2014 in Sacramento.
Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) makes a shot against Maccabi Haifa of Israel during a preseason game on Saturday, October, 18, 2014 in Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The energy from Friday’s practice, after the Kings returned from two exhibition games in China, was gone for much of Saturday night.

It took a while, but the Kings eventually routed Maccabi Haifa as expected, 91-59, in an exhibition game at Sleep Train Arena.

The Kings looked like a jetlagged team early while Maccabi Haifa had reason to be weary, too.

Sacramento was the last stop on a three-city exhibition tour for Maccabi Haifa, which traveled by bus after Friday night’s game in Portland, Ore.

Defense was a major concern for Kings coach Michael Malone entering the game.

Sacramento had allowed 107.7 points per game and 47.2 percent shooting in four exhibition contests. The Kings were allowing 40.2 percent from three-point range, too.

“It’s everything,” Malone said.

Malone said the Kings have had “some good moments” on defense but cited their last game against Brooklyn in Beijing as an example of all that can go wrong on defense.

“We guarded nobody,” Malone said. “We didn’t talk, we weren’t onto the ball, we weren’t physical, (and) they got whatever they wanted. For me, it’s just the defense as a whole, not just one area, because right now we’ve got so many holes I can’t pick out just one.”

Defense wasn’t an issue Saturday as Maccabi Haifa shot just 27.8 percent.

“No disrespect to them, but they’re not an NBA team,” Malone said. “But to hold them below 20 points every quarter and 28 percent from the field, that’s a lot more to my liking as a coach.”

Still, the Kings have plenty to work on in their final two exhibition games.

Sacramento was sloppy with the ball again, committing 25 turnovers to increase their average to 20.8 in the preseason.

Maccabi Haifa, which lost at Washington and Portland, couldn’t make the Kings pay for the turnovers.

Sacramento will have to play better on both ends of the floor to succeed in the regular season. Maccabi Haifa scored only nine points off Kings turnovers.

“We’re not going to measure ourselves against Maccabi,” Malone said. “We have to hold ourselves to a much higher standard knowing full well that we have two more games to try and get this right going into opening night against Golden State (on Oct. 29) and against Portland right after that. We still have a lot of work to do.”

The Kings committed 15 turnovers in the first half, when Maccabi Haifa stayed relatively close despite travel accommodations below NBA standards and a major gap in talent.

The Kings led 39-28 at halftime and opened the second half with a 12-4 run.

“It’s challenging because at times you can play down to the level of competition,” said Kings guard Darren Collison. “You’re not really doing the things you need to do to improve. The first half was a little bit of a slow start for us, and the good thing is we picked it up in the second half.”

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with 15 points. He also had 12 rebounds and a team-high nine turnovers.

Collison and Derrick Williams each scored 12 points. Ramon Sessions had 11 points and six assists, and Reggie Evans had a game-high 13 rebounds.

Demontez Stitt led Maccabi Haifa with 17 points.

Notes – Starting small forward Rudy Gay (left ankle) did not play Saturday. Malone said the team was being cautious after Gay injured his ankle during Friday’s practice.

Cousins returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the previous exhibition game with Achilles soreness.

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