E’Twaun Moore, welcome to a not-so-exclusive club.
It’s the club where the Kings allow you to score a career high, even though you might not be your team’s primary, or secondary, scoring option.
That, along with another slow start by the Kings, led to their fifth loss in six games, 107-102, to the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Moore’s previous career high was 19 points, and he surpassed that by the end of the third quarter and finished with a team-high 24 points.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
It’s been a theme all season. If there’s a player out for the opposing team, see who fills in for him and watch him have a great game.
Moore had more opportunities Wednesday with All-Star Jimmy Butler sitting out with left knee tendinitis.
“Everybody comes in and scores career highs,” said Kings guard Rajon Rondo. “... It seems like every other game it’s not a star player, it’s the other guys – maybe it’s a lack of focus, maybe we don’t respect these guys. They get paid just like we do and they’re making the best of it.”
Moore shot 9 for 16 and also had four rebounds, four assists and two steals to make sure the Bulls didn’t miss Butler.
“I don’t know,” said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. “I think it comes down to individual pride, individual pride defensively. You should hate somebody scoring on you as much as you love scoring on the next person.”
That pride has to be team-wide because the Kings have had a habit of starting off slow defensively of late.
Moore got going early, scoring 13 points of Chicago’s 34 first-quarter points.
Sacramento has allowed more than 30 points in the first quarter in its last five games.
The Bulls led 34-25 after the first quarter Wednesday.
Kings coach George Karl said he doesn’t know why it’s happened to the Kings so much this season.
“You think I know?” Karl said. “If I knew … it’s a nightmare. I’ve never had this many games on your homecourt, come out flat.”
Cousins is just as perplexed by the Kings’ slow starts.
“I wish I had the answer to it,” Cousins said. “We just come out sluggish. I don’t know. I really wish I had the answer to it, I really wish I had the answer, I don’t know.”
Cousins led the Kings (21-28) with 30 points and 11 rebounds. But that wasn’t enough to overcome their start, Chicago (27-21) shooting 11-for-21 from three-point range and giving up 24 points off 17 turnovers.
The slow starts put the Kings in a familiar situation. They fall behind big, work back into the game but come up short in the end.
“It’s not a good formula for success,” Karl said. “We try to present it at the beginning, motivate yourself to be more into the game. We present ourselves that we don’t want to give up 30-point quarters. We try to present in a different way, but we’re basically saying get ready and play your (butt) off early.”
By time the Kings found their way, Moore was confident and eventually Derrick Rose (21 points, nine assists) would catch on to help put the Kings away late as their rally, cutting the deficit to three with 45.2 seconds to go, came up short.
“We started out bad again and it came back to bite us in the (butt) again,” said forward Rudy Gay. “We came back, we fought back but we definitely need to focus on how we start games.”