In the midst of their seemingly endless free fall to the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the Sacramento Kings are playing their worst basketball of the season.
There is no identity, no sense of unit, no consistency in scoring, and no commitment to defense.
The Kings have now lost five games in a row as they enter one of the toughest stretches of their season, including two future matchups with Golden State and a game against the red hot Toronto Raptors.
Sacramento failed to take care of the Brooklyn Nets, who played without Deron Williams, in what was a complete loss from start to finish.
Defensive stopping power was nonexistent from the first quarter. DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson failed to protect the rim and the paint, allowing Nets to cut and slash their way in for easy baskets with almost no resistance.
Bojan Bogdanovic had all 10 of his points in the first quarter by cutting like a mad man to the basket until he lost (mostly Ben McLemore and Rudy Gay) whoever was guarding him. Jarrett Jack, who filled in for Williams, fed the ball into the paint in the first half on almost every Brooklyn possession.
The Kings were unable to create offense in the second half, contributing flat offensive possessions which mostly ended in missed jump shots.
Reverting back to their infamous possessions featuring a single screen followed by a contested jump shot, Sacramento fell flat and allowed the Nets to jump to a game-high 23-point lead. Gay shot the ball a total of 11 times in the first three quarters for 11 points. Cousins had 17 field-goal attempts, many of them jump shots, and had just 15 points through the first three periods.
If a fast-paced approach is supposed to baffle defenses in the NBA, the Nets seem to have figured out the Kings.
Cousins and Gay orchestrated what appeared to be a legitimate comeback, bringing Sacramento to within three points with under two minutes left.
Joe Johnson drained a three-pointer and the team made late-game free throws to put the game just out of reach of the Kings, but it was never in question. The Nets controlled this contest with a balanced scoring approach in which five players scored in double digits.
Johnson finished the game with 16 points on 15 field goal attempts. He, as usual, was the primary source of offense for Brooklyn.
Brook Lopez matched up well with DeMarcus Cousins down low, as the two went back in forth in the post and made life nearly impossible for the other. Lopez had 22 points and six rebounds, shooting 8-for-15 from the field. He also protected the paint effectively against driving Kings players, recording six blocks.