Sacramento Kings: A listless effort
By Ryan Rodriguez
If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I don’t mind the Sacramento Kings racking up the losses once again this year, so long as they show improvement as a cohesive basketball team and steady improvement throughout the year. Well, last night was not one of those nights, as the Kings fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 109-99 in one of the least energetic games I can remember watching. For all of the losses this year, there have been not too many times when the Kings seemed to go through the motions for an entire game like last night. It was a bad sign early on when both Rudy and Boogie missed point blank lay ins, as it seemed like the team lacked any attention to detail and would rather have just skipped this game and gotten to New York a day early.
There really was no excuse for the effort they displayed last night either. The last game was on Sunday, they have a game tonight against the Knicks, and yet failed to use this game against a similar floundering team to kick start their back-to-back. Usually you want to take the first game of a back-to-back, especially on the road, but the Kings had no desire to do this. The offense was lackadasical, simply getting shots because they have to get one up before the 24 second clock expires. The defense was full of ball watching, failed contests at the rim, if there even was a contest, and bad rotations. The play that epitomized the game to me was at the end of the third quarter, when Dion Waters and Matthew Dellavedova linked up to backdoor Marcus Thornton for a layup. It was lazy defense at its finest, Thornton just assuming a high pick and roll was going to be run and completely taking his eyes and mind off his guy in the corner, and then no backside help stepping up to stop or contest the layup.
This one is tough because now the Kings are looking at a winless road trip, as winning back to back road games for a 6-19 team on the road is not likely. 2-2 definitely looked like a possibility on the trip, with three games against similarly struggling teams, but after the stink bomb that the other guys laid in Boston on Friday (everyone not named Isaiah or DeMarcus), it was apparent this would not be a bright trip. Last night only added to it as things like Isaiah going 1-5 from the line and 1-6 from three, two things that I can’t really remember happening separately, especially the free throw performance, much less at the same time. Or Jason Thompson only playing 15 minutes and having those be about as uneventful and unproductive as possible. I know patience is key in this rebuilding project and I have a decent amount of it, but last night’s performance from an effort standpoint was just sad. I hope Mike Malone addresses what needs to be addressed at the shootaround today, or he already did after the game last night because I know this killed him even more than it killed me.
Before I go, I’d like to touch on Anthony Bennett. Last night was the first time I got to see the first overall pick play, and I have to say, I was happy to see him have such a good game. 19 points and 10 boards for the first triple double of his career was a good first impression for me, and it comes in a stretch where he has started to play some good basketball. He completely outclassed the Kings yesterday from an effort and desire standpoint, flying around and being proactive on the offensive and defensive ends. I don’t want anyone to be a bust, so hopefully Bennett starts to turn things around a become a productive player.
Next game is at New York.