Culture of Hoops

Sacramento Kings Fall Further From Goal of Winning Record

Image courtesy of Michael Tipton/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Michael Tipton/Flickr.

The Sacramento Kings have eradicated any prior belief that a winning season would be in store, losing their sixth game in a row without much of a fight.

Turnovers continue to be a very relevant factor in the inefficiencies of Sacramento’s offense, as Tyrone Corbin’s attempt at forcing an unrealistic pace and offensive approach has dropped the production of most Kings players. Against the Toronto Raptors, though, a full absence of perimeter defense virtually ended the game in the third quarter.

Sacramento came out with a decent showing in the first half, exchanging mini runs with Toronto to keep the game within reach. Turnovers plagued both teams in the first half and weren’t a real source of damage to the Kings’ hopes of winning, regardless of how sloppy DeMarcus Cousins‘ low post play was.

This was one of Cousins’ worst showings of the season, as he posted a ridiculous nine turnovers and just 13 points. Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson gave each other impeccable help, immediately double-teaming Cousins after he would receive the ball in the paint, forcing bad passes to the perimeter and keeping Cousins out of his rhythm.

In the second half, Toronto shifted its focus to the offensive side of the ball and poured in eight threes on nine attempts to expand their lead by 18. Ben McLemore, Darren Collison, and Nik Stauskas were unable to follow Kyle Lowry‘s drive-and-kick possessions, which almost always led to an open shot for Greivis Vasquez, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, and Patrick Patterson.

Lowry had 13 points on 12 field-goal attempts and added two rebounds. His seven assists led to many of the team’s threes.

Sacramento was unable to handle the immense space created by Valanciunas’ presence in the paint, and it led to wide open jump shots from mid and long range. Whether or not the Kings lost defensive assignments is unclear, but there was an explicit hole in the defensive approach. Players stepped under screens instead of fighting through them, leaving shooters wide open on the perimeter that they couldn’t close out on.

Rudy Gay made his return to Toronto and was met with boos from a lazy crowd. His offensive game was one of the only bright spots for Sacramento in the contest. He put in 22 points on 17 field-goal attempts and hit two three-pointers. Rudy also chipped in three rebounds and three assists.

Lou Williams scored a team-high 27 points for the Raptors in just 26 minutes, as he made four of his perimeter shots and didn’t shy away from highly contested shots. He hit all nine of his free-throw attempts, and added two rebounds, two assists, and three steals.

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