Kings Blog

Sacramento can’t keep up with surging Phoenix

Kings guard Darren Collison reacts after being whistled for a foul during the third quarter of Friday night’s loss to the Suns.
Kings guard Darren Collison reacts after being whistled for a foul during the third quarter of Friday night’s loss to the Suns. jvillegas@sacbee.com

The Kings want to learn how to play at a faster pace the rest of the season.

The Phoenix Suns already do that and they offered a lesson in fast-paced play, outracing the Kings, 115-106, Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.

The Suns are equipped with three-point shooters and multiple guards who can attack the rim, things the Kings still lack as they try to play at a faster tempo since firing coach Michael Malone because of his lack of pace on offense.

But the Kings, playing without center DeMarcus Cousins (stomach illness), didn’t have the means to slow down the pace with their star center and couldn’t keep up with the faster, deeper Suns.

The Kings have lost seven of their last eight games.

“As we want to increase our pace they’re used to playing at that pace,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They’re a little better at it than we are at this juncture. They shoot the ball early, they shoot it frequently, they attack the basket with their three guards out there at times.

And as the game wore on, the Suns looked fresh while the Kings looked like they could have used a few more timeouts.

“I thought we were gassed a little bit for stretches in the game when we were trying to go up and down with them,” Corbin said. “And that’s the trapping of playing against a team with that pace, they kind of lull you into how they play and we fell for it a little bit tonight..

The Kings once-solid defense from three-point range was exploited again. The Suns (17-14) shot 42.4 percent from beyond the arc (14 of 33) as Eric Bledsoe (18 points, six assists), Goran Dragic (16 points, six assists) and former King Isaiah Thomas (17 points, five assists) were able to take advantage of Sacramento’s defensive problems.

The 14 threes were the most the Kings have allowed in regulation this season. Houston had 15 in an overtime game.

Three of the Kings’ last four opponents have made at least 10 or more threes.

“The thing we talked about before the game was contain the ball, and we didn’t do a great job of that (Friday),” Corbin said. “Too many times they broke us down. That kills your defense, especially on the perimeter with three-point shooters when you collapse the defense down and give those guys good open looks.

As the Kings (12-17) struggle to pick up the uptempo game, they are struggling to find defensive balance, too.

In the five games since the coaching change, the Kings are allowing 111.2 points per game and scoring 104.2.

“I don’t know,” forward Rudy Gay said when asked how long it would take the Kings to pick up the new style. “I’m not sure. It’s going to take time, who knows. It could be a game, it could be 20 games, I don’t know. Eventually I think we’ll get to it.”

Cousins missed his 11th game of the season due to gastroenteritis, a stomach illness. It’s the second time this season Cousins has become ill after a holiday.

Cousins woke up sick the day after Thanksgiving and would miss 10 games because of viral meningitis.

The Kings are 2-9 this season without Cousins in the lineup.

Backup center Ryan Hollins was excused for personal reasons. The memorial service for his father, Denier, is today in Pasadena.

Backup point guard Ramon Sessions also sat out with a lower back strain. It’s a problem that has bothered Sessions lately and forced him to miss time. He didn’t play last Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers and played only six minutes Monday at Golden State.

Darren Collison led the Kings with 19 points, including a career-high tying four three-pointers. Gay had 16 points and five assists. Derrick Williams (16), Carl Landry (12) and Omri Casspi (11) all scored in double figures off the bench for the Kings.

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