The Sacramento Kings guard’s defensive incompetence is becoming more of a problem for the inconsistent club. With no viable option for a perimeter defender, the Kings can be beaten in a number of ways.
Tonight against the Golden State Warriors, the dynamic backcourt of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry had their way against the defensively noncommittal Kings guards. Curry and Thompson finished with 38 and 15 points respectively. Scoring from everywhere on the court, Curry and Thompson combined for 27 of their 53 points from the behind the arc. The “Splash Bros” were also able to tally 17 assists between the two on driving to the basket and finding the open man.
The Kings had no defensive answer and were unable to stop a 36-point blowout of a third quarter.
While the actual scoring output from the other team’s guards is largely impactful on the outcome of the game, there are other factors that disable the Kings from becoming a legitimate playoff contender. The inability to contain these players on a consistent basis draws large problems for the Sacramento front court.
As seen in the game against Los Angeles, as well as tonight, DeMarcus Cousins missed a majority of the second half because of foul troubles. Sliding over in order to cover the defensive miscues has Cousins tally up unnecessary foul calls as he tries to cover smaller, and quicker, guards.
Tonight, the Kings needed DeMarcus more than ever in order to prevent the Warriors from sweeping the season series between the two. “I feel like we lost every game this season the same way as tonight,” a frustrated DeMarcus Cousins said at his locker after the game. Not having Cousins on the court has an immediate impact for the Kings. The Warriors stretched their lead to 14 during the third when he was off the floor. Upon his return, Cousins lead the King to within five points of tying the game.
This type of impact is not a fluke neither. In the four times the Kings have played the Warriors, this is the first time that Cousins has played the whole game. In the first two meetings, Cousins was out with a sore achilles and the Kings were blown out. During his first game back, Cousins was ejected on two technical foul calls that lead the Warriors to go on a stretch of scoring and rout the Kings late in the game. Tonight, the same pattern repeated itself. Without the guards being able to contain the Warriors players, Cousins found himself on the bench for nine minutes during the third and the longest offensive stretch for the Dubs. The Kings couldn’t bridge this gap and ultimately lost the game.
Cousins has been a force this season and is the most important aspect to the team’s success. Tonight he finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds. This is a league leading 7th game of 30-10 for Cousins this year.
For the Warriors, Draymond Green had an equally impressive output. Green finished with nine rebounds to go along with 23 points and five of six from three.
His counterpart, Rudy Gay, finished with 23 points and nine rebounds. Darren Collison came off the bench and provided some more offensive stability for the Kings. Scoring 16 points and dishing out six assists.
The Kings took care of the ball tonight but couldn’t close the game when it mattered the most. Sacramento finished the night with 27 assists to just ten turnovers. A season best for the club.
Overall, Sacramento was pleased with the effort but fell just short once again. Until they figure out the defensive commitment of the guards, the Kings will remain in a playoff purgatory. Now a game and a half out of the eighth seed, the Kings will take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
The Warriors will look to maintain an NBA-best through 37 games, 35-2 record as they take on the Miami Heat on Monday night at home.
(35-2, 18-2 away)
(15-22, 10-10 home)
10:00 PM ET, January 9, 2016
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
GS: S. Curry 38 Pts, 6 Reb, 11 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk
Sac: D. Cousins 33 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl