SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have hit a wall. Young players, veterans, it doesn’t matter. After a six-game road trip, followed by back-to-back losses at home, the Kings look winded.
“Mental fatigue,” is all head coach Dave Joerger could muster when asked about his team’s struggles.
The Dallas Mavericks used an 18-0 run in the late third quarter and early fourth to put away the Kings Saturday evening at Golden 1 Center. Like the 30-15 run by the Warriors on Friday night, it was a combination of missed shots and poor execution on the defensive end.
You don’t have to look any further than the official play-by-play rundown of the game to spot a trend during the Mavericks run.
Missed jump shot, missed jump shots, missed fadeaway shot, missed fadeaway shot, missed fadeaway shot, missed floater, missed jump shot, missed jump shot.
In the matter of a few minutes, the Kings turned a six-point lead into a 12-point deficit. They missed seven 3-point attempts during the stretch, many of them from well beyond the arc.
Missing from the run was a layup attempt, a dunk or a free throw. Dallas turned up the heat and the Kings settled for long perimeter shots.
“Just a slow start to the fourth,” rookie De’Aaron Fox said following the 106-99 loss. “They started making shots and it’s really hard to come back from something like that.”
After shooting 63.3 percent from the field through three quarter, the Kings appeared to run out of gas. They shot 22.7 percent in the final frame, including a 1-of-10 quarter from behind the arc.
When the shots stopped falling, most teams attack the rim and try to get to the foul line. On the night, Sacramento went to the free throw stripe just six times, which ties the franchise’s low for attempts in a game dating back to January of 1997.
“They’re a lot bigger and stronger than we are,” a clearly frustrated Joerger said in his post game comments. “They manhandled us physically, I thought, around the perimeter cuts and just played with a lot more force.”
The locker room was quiet following the game. Plenty of players had already cleared out by the time the media was let in. Losing isn’t fun. Neither is a brutal stretch in the schedule.
Joerger announced that the team would take Sunday off before returning for shootaround in preparation for the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Following the Bulls game, the Kings won’t play again until Friday, a day after the NBA’s trade deadline.