Kings

Gameday: Kings hit the road looking to snap four-game skid

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USATSI

Gameday: Kings hit the road looking to snap four-game skid

Following an embarrassing loss on their homecourt on Sunday afternoon, the Sacramento Kings traveled to Indiana where they’ll face the new look Pacers on Halloween night.

With George Hill and Zach Randolph resting, Washington jumped all over the Kings from the opening tip. The young core never responded, falling 110-83 to a quality Eastern Conference opponent. They’ll need a better effort from everyone involved if they hope to snap their four-game losing streak.

Indiana shocked the Spurs on Sunday, coming away with a 97-94 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Six Pacers average double-figure scoring early in the season, including former Kings guard Darren Collison who is posting 14.3 points and eight assists per game as Indiana’s starting point guard.

BETTING LINE

Pacers by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Buddy Hield vs. Victor Oladipo -- Hield is struggling with his shot early in the season, knocking down just 37 percent from the field and 25 percent from long range. He’ll need to find his offensive game if he hopes to keep up with the Pacers leading scorer. Oladipo is proving to be much more than just a consolation prize in the Paul George trade for Indiana. The 25-year-old shooting guard is off to a blistering start to the season, posting 25.5 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting from long range. 

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 1-5, fifth place in Pacific

Pacers: 3-3, third place in Central

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG/SF Temple (rest) out, PF Zach Randolph (sore left foot) probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Pacers: F/C Myles Turner (concussion) out, PF Domantas Sabonis (illness) questionable, SF Glen Robinson III (ankle) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

SEARCHING FOR OFFENSE -- Sacramento has been hit and miss on the offensive end this season. They’ve topped a 100 points three times, but they’ve also dropped in 93, 79 and 83 point performances. Finding consistency with a young roster isn’t easy. The Kings need to push the tempo and get into their offense early. Sacramento is currently 28th in the league in scoring at 96 points per game and they rank 27th in offensive rating at 100.4.

FIGHTING THROUGH ADVERSITY -- De’Aaron Fox struggled for one of the first time this season, posting just two points on 1-of-8 shooting in his first NBA start. He wasn’t the only young player to come out cold in the Kings’ 27-point blowout loss to the Wizards. Most of the team came away with an ugly stat line. This is first time many of these players have lost five out of six games in their basketball careers. You either fight through it or allow losing to become the norm.  

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MALACHI -- Malachi Richardson has sat quietly on the bench in three of the Kings’ for six games. It appears the second-year wing is going to get a chance to show what he can do as a reserve over the next few games. When his shot is falling, you can see the confidence grow in the 21-year-old wing. When he goes cold or is left out of the offense, he needs to find ways to stay on the court with his defense and rebounding.

SERIES HISTORY

The Pacers swept the Kings 2-0 last season, including an overtime win in Indiana late in January. Indiana holds a 46-39 lead over the Kings all-time and a 35-26 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

Gameday: Kings try to snap skid on first night of Blazers back-to-back

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AP

Gameday: Kings try to snap skid on first night of Blazers back-to-back

SACRAMENTO -- Coming off one of the worst performances in franchise history, the Kings return to Golden 1 Center to host the Portland Trail Blazers in the first game of a home-and-home on back-to-back nights. They’ll try to get their offense flowing against a quality Portland team with a pair of star guards.

Sacramento’s 46-point loss to the lowly Hawks set a new low point in the season. The Kings lacked effort and intensity against an Atlanta team that came into the game at just 2-11 on the season. They’ll need a better effort against the Blazers or the outcome could get worse.

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum anchor a quality Portland team, but big man Jusuf Nurkic is the straw that stirs the Blazers drink. He can pound you inside, find the open man and block shots at will. Willie Cauley-Stein and the Kings frontline will have their hands full with Portland’s versatile and physical center.

BETTING LINE

Blazers by 7

KEY MATCHUP

Garrett Temple vs. C.J. McCollum -- Damian Lillard gets all the publicity, but McCollum is a star in his own right. Sacramento passed on the sharpshooter during the 2013 NBA Draft, choosing Ben McLemore instead. It was a huge mistake as McCollum developed into one of the premier shooters in the league. Barring a major change in the lineup, Temple gets the start at the two. He’ll have his hands full with a player averaging 22.5 points per game on league-best 53.1 percent shooting from long range.  

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 3-11, fifth place in Pacific

Trail Blazers: 8-6, second place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: F Vince Carter (kidney stones) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Trail Blazers: F Al Farouq Aminu (ankle) out, C Meyers Leonard (ankle) questionable, G C.J. Wilcox (knee) out, PG Wade Baldwin (thumb) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

PRIDE -- After losing three straight on the road by a combined 91 points, the Sacramento Kings have to show some pride on their home court. They aren’t as talented or experienced as the Blazers, but losing by 46 points is completely unacceptable by any standard.

CHANGING THE LINEUP -- The current starting five of Hill, Temple, Bogdanovic, Randolph and Cauley-Stein isn’t working. This group has fallen behind in almost every game they’ve been on the floor together and at some point, Joerger has to make move. Who starts and who sits is always up for debate, but the time for running the same five out there and expecting something different is long gone.

TOO NICE -- During their current losing streak the Kings roster has almost been congenial to their opponents. Nurkic is a player that has no problem sending a high elbow to the nose of his opponent and that’s the way the game should be played. It’s time for the Mr. Nice Guy act to go away and for the Kings players to show they can hang when the game gets physical.

SERIES HISTORY

Portland won the season series 2-1 last year, which each team holding home court. The Blazers lead the all-time series 129-77 and they own the Kings during the Sacramento-era 88-46.

QUOTE

“It’s not just going to happen over night. As long as we all keep working, which we’ve been doing. We’ve had some really good practices, coaching has been really good. It’s going to take time, that’s what it is right now.” -Skal Labissiere on the team’s current struggles

Kings hit new low, issue apology to fans: 'We’re out there playing like crap'

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USATSI

Kings hit new low, issue apology to fans: 'We’re out there playing like crap'

No excuses, from top to bottom, the Sacramento Kings have to be better. After a three-game eastern swing that included blowout losses in New York, Washington and Atlanta by a combined 91 points, the Kings have hit a new low.

“We owe Sacramento, our fans, better than what we’re showing them, like tonight,” veteran point guard George Hill said following the team’s 46 point loss to the Hawks on Wednesday evening.

The Kings couldn’t buy a basket against Atlanta, shooting just 35.2 percent from the field. Poor offense led to even worse defense. Atlanta destroyed Sacramento in the pick-and-roll, turning journeyman Dewayne Dedmon into an All-NBA first teamer for one evening.

Dedmon is no Kristaps Porzingis. But for one night, the 28-year-old center who averages 4.7 points for his career, went off for 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals in just 23 minutes of action.  

“Losing is one thing, but we’ve got to do a better job of competing,” a clearly frustrated Dave Joerger told reporters following the loss. “You don’t have to be an a-hole to play a competitive, get in it, get after, aggressive basketball.”

Luke Babbitt doubled his season scoring average in the first half, hitting flat-footed wide open jumpers. It was reminiscent of what Courtney Lee did to the Kings during New York’s 27-point win Saturday.

Once Dedmon and Babbitt got it going, Dennis Schroder took over and the game quickly slipped out of control

“You can’t back down from it, we got our butt kicked and we have to take it on the chin ourself,” Hill said.

“Coach can only coach,” Hill added. “We’re out there on the court. As players, we have to take full responsibility of ourself. We’re out there playing like crap so that loss is on us as individuals and as players.”

So far this season, Joerger has allocated minutes evenly throughout his roster. Rookie De’Aaron Fox leads the team in minutes per game at 26.1, but 10 players average 18.7 minutes a night or more. It sounds like that is about to change.

“We’ve got a lot of nice guys,” Joerger said. “I love em, I love em, but we’ve got to find - I never said that I would split the minutes between 10 guys or 11 guys. I’m looking for guys who jump up and say, ‘You know what, I play so hard you should be playing me. I’m playing so well, you should be playing me.’ And we’re not getting that collectively right now.”

Slow starts have plagued this team throughout the season. The Hawks scored the first nine points of the game and by halftime, it was already a 29 point blowout.

The New York game started in similar fashion with the Knicks scoring the game’s first 10 points. Despite changes to the opening unit, the slow starts have almost become the norm.

The 46-point loss was the sixth worst in franchise history. Sacramento came into the night with a 10-game losing streak at Philips Arena, dating back to 2006, but Atlanta was just 2-11 on the season and hadn’t secured a home win before the Kings rolled through town.

Who is to blame? There is plenty to go around in a drubbing of this magnitude, but the woes so far this season will take more than a 14-game sample size to find a culprit or two. There are contributing factors coming into the season, but eventually, you have to look past a shortened training camp and 10 players with three seasons of NBA experience or less.

This is the squad the Kings will take into battle every game and they have to play better. Be it the Atlanta Hawks or the Portland Trail Blazers who roll into Sacramento on Friday evening, the effort and intensity has to increase or this is going to be a very long season of Kings basketball.