It’s time to get beyond the Michael Malone was fired excuse.
“We’re not going there,” said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. “We’re not going there.”
Cousins is right. It’s not about that anymore. It’s about the Kings and how they were run out of their own building, 101-78, by a Dallas Mavericks team at Sleep Train Arena without the injured Rajon Rondo and Dirk Nowitzki, who was given the night off.
It’s about how the Kings watched as the Mavericks closed the second quarter on a 25-8 run that the Kings never showed any will to stop.
It’s about how the Kings (17-31) have lost 10 of 11 and look like a team that’s ready for the offseason more than a team that was once 9-5 and had hopes of making the playoffs.
“It’s about having self respect, some type of pride and taking your job seriously, coming in every night ready to play regardless of the circumstances,” Cousins said. “Just man up and play. Play hard. If we play hard and we get our brains beat in I’m fine with that. But to come out and just lay down like we did tonight is inexcusable.”
The Kings had their second-lowest scoring night of the season and were done in by a 37-point second quarter by the Mavericks (34-18).
There were too many uncontested looks for the Mavs, who were able to rest their regulars who did suit up as the Kings didn’t even muster a second-half rally, as they’ve usually done when falling behind big early.
“Everybody in here has played basketball for a long time,” Cousins said. “Everybody knows teams go on runs. Everybody knows just as quick as they get a run, you can too. Keep playing hard. You see a team get a run, stop the bleeding and you try to create a run of your own.”
The Kings shot 36.7 percent, including missing 18 of their 21 three pointers. They again had more turnovers (17) than assists (13).
Dallas on shot 42.7 percent for the game, but they didn’t need to be at their best to dispose of the Kings, who seemed at their most intense when yelling at officials and each other.
The bad body language has taken over too with each mistake. Cousins, who had 23 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and six turnovers said he needs to do his part to fix that.
“The only thing I can do is lead by example, that’s the only thing I can do,” Cousins said. “Keep trying to lead by example, that’s all I can do. My body language has been bad as well. I need to straighten it out myself. I need to lead by example.”
Cousins was also asked if the Kings had player-only meetings to try sort out what’s gone wrong over the last 24 games. The Kings are 6-18 over that span.
“We’ve had player-only meetings,” Cousins said. “I don’t even think we’ll get anything out of it, it’s something inside each guy in this locker room.”
It starts, and ends, with the players.