SACRAMENTO -- Some losses you can’t hide from. It’s not about losing to a better team or dropping a tough one at the buzzer.
There is no excuse in the book for trailing by as many as 33 points to the team with the worst record in the Western Conference. Especially when that team is playing on the road for the second night of a back-to-back.
“We got our butt kicked,” George Hill said following the Kings 114-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on New Years Eve. “It’s not fun losing. We’ve got to figure it out.”
The Kings fell behind big early. Despite starting four veterans and a 25-year-old rookie, Sacramento went down by as many as 16 in the first quarter.
“I don’t know if we were just exhaling being at home or relaxing from being on the road a long time, but this is not a good performance,” Dave Joerger said following the game. “Lack of focus and lack of force. ”
After falling behind by 24 in the second quarter, they made a run to cut the Grizzlies lead to 14 at the 2:28 mark, but it was all downhill from there.
“Sometimes we let our offense dictate our emotions and things like that,” Hill added. “When we’re not making our shots, we kind of go into a slump.”
The Kings couldn’t find the basket and they couldn’t stop Tyreke Evans. The 2011 Rookie of the Year looked like an All-Star, hitting his former team for 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in just 25 minutes of action. Evans was the only Memphis player to score more than 11 points on the night.
“He was in a rhythm, man,” Joerger said of Evans. “He’s very comfortable and he was very locked in. When he is able to make his jumper at that ease, he is very difficult to guard.”
With the loss, Sacramento fell to 12-24 on the season. They have now lost two in a row and four of their last five. Following the game, the coaching staff asked the players to take a solid look at what they are bringing to the table and how they can help the team snap out of the current funk.
“Each guy just has to own his own stuff,” Joerger said. “It’s not a finger pointing deal, it’s a ‘how can I get better?’ This is a little bit part of the process of maturing, locking in and getting focused.”
Joerger has turned to countless lineups to start the season. He’s found some combinations that work, but overall, each game has its own challenges. At some point, the players need to show consistent production.
“Like coach said, each and every one of us [needs] to look in the mirror and figure out what we can do better,” Hill said. “It’s not about making shots or this or that. How can we help the team get better in every aspect of the game.”
The Kings are taking New Year's Day off with the hopes of starting fresh Tuesday evening when the Charlotte Hornets roll into Sacramento. It’s another opportunity to get a win against a sub-.500 team.