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Cousins points to ‘bigger issue’ as Kings’ defense falters again in loss to Nets

It’s become predictable.

Whomever the Kings play, pencil in someone for a season or career high, and there’s a good chance the Kings’ defense will give it up, and no one can pinpoint why.

The Kings gave up a slew of season and career highs again in losing 128-119 to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at Barclays Center, Sacramento’s sixth loss in seven games.

Kings’ All-Star DeMarcus Cousins said there was a bigger issue than energy and effort, which have become postgame cliches this season.

“I’m not going to keep blaming these guys in the locker room,” said Cousins, who had his first triple double of the season with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. “Energy and effort is a huge part of the game, but I’m not going to keep blaming it on that. We’ve got a bigger issue, and we need to figure it out as a team.”

What is that issue?

“I’d rather keep it in house, but we definitely have a bigger issue than just energy and effort,” Cousins said. “That can’t be the excuse every night. ... We’re going to work it out as a team, and hopefully we can fix this.”

The Nets exploited several of the Sacramento’s problems that are far from secret. The Kings are bad on defense and routinely give up open three-point shots.

“We tried to do a shootout mentality and just sit here very empty right now,” said Kings coach George Karl, who pointed to transition defense and offensive rebounds as problems.

Brooklyn’s 128 points in the game and 65 in the first half were season highs. The Nets entered the game averaging 96.5 points and had 103 through three quarters – their most through three since scoring 105 points against Seattle on Nov. 11, 2000.

Brooklyn had three 60-point halves all season entering Friday; it had more than 60 in both halves Friday.

The Nets made 18 three pointers and shot 55.8 percent from the field, both season highs. They had 29 assists, their most in a regulation game this season.

Joe Johnson had season highs of 27 points and 11 assists, and grabbed six rebounds. It was the first time Johnson had at least 20 points and 10 assists in a game since March 21, 2010, when he was a perennial All-Star with Atlanta. It was the most assists for Johnson since Dec. 31, 2010.

Donald Sloan scored a season season-high 17 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic hit a career-high 7 of his 9 three-point attempts to tie the Nets’ record for most threes by a reserve.

“It’s like déjà vu,” said Rondo, who had 15 points and 15 assists. “Either (a team has its best offensive game) or someone scores a career high or the best a team has done all year seems to be on us.”

“It’s frustrating,” Cousins said. “We seem to have some type of career high from an opponent on a nightly basis. Every night it’s the same story.”

Rondo said the defensive problems are the result of “selfish team defense” that gives opponents chances to shine.

“It has nothing to do with the coaches,” Rondo said. “It’s about us. We don’t sacrifice enough to do what it takes to win consecutive games. We overhelped tonight, but in that case, it’s about team defense. We didn’t help the helper on both ends of the floor, but it has to start on defense.”

Before the game, Rondo held an impromptu pregame media session, something he rarely does, and discussed what he seeks in free agency.

“Coach and the style of play,” said Rondo, who could re-sign with the Kings. “The biggest thing for me is the style of play.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at

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