SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are young and energetic, but they are still learning how to play a full 48 minutes. Against a veteran team like the Raptors, that’s not going to work.
The Kings came out of the gate slow, allowing the Raptors to score the first 13 points of the afternoon. After the second unit fought their way back into the game to take a 29-28 lead, Sacramento once again let up, falling behind 54-48 at the half.
Sacramento made runs at Toronto, but they never got closer that seven points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors pulled away for the 102-87 victory.
There are plenty of reasons for the team’s inconsistent effort. It doesn’t matter who Dave Joerger drops into the starting lineup, they tend to flounder.
De’Aaron Fox started alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic in the backcourt and struggled against veteran Kyle Lowry. The rookie began the game 0-for-4 before hitting 3-of-4 in the fourth quarter. In addition to the shooting woes, Fox turned the ball over a career-high seven times, including six in the first half.
“It’s frustrating - we all have those games, but (we) just have to get back into practice, focus on taking care of the ball and just look forward to playing Phoenix the next game,” Fox said.
Joerger pointed to the Kings’ heavy travel schedule early as a possible culprit for the sloppy ball handling.
“Sometimes that can be general fatigue,” Joerger said. “You know, traveling around, flying around, playing a bunch of games and you’re only [a] 19-year-old.”
Fellow rookie point guard Frank Mason III struggled as well. Mason didn’t turn the ball over, but he shot just 1-of-10 from the field to finish the afternoon with six points and three assists.
Buddy Hield has been electric for Sacramento since moving to the second unit. He started the game hot, hitting his first six shots. But when the Raptors tightened up the defense, Hield not only missed shots, but he made mistakes.
Hield finished the night 7-of-13 from the field, but he turned the ball over six times as he forced the action.
It was a learning experience for the young Kings. The Raptors have posted 48 wins or more four straight seasons. They currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference and there is little doubt that they’ll make a fifth straight playoff appearance.
Lowry, along with fellow veterans DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka combined to score 60 of the Raptors 102 points. When they needed a shot to put the Kings away, they got it.
With the loss, Sacramento dropped to 8-18 on the season. They’ll return to Golden 1 Center Tuesday to face the Phoenix Suns and it sounds like they should have Willie Cauley-Stein back after the big man missed the previous three games with a lower back strain.