Dave Joerger not happy with Kings after loss to Mavs: 'We were awful'

Dave Joerger not happy with Kings after loss to Mavs: 'We were awful'

SACRAMENTO -- Chaos is becoming the norm in Sacramento. With protesters barring more than 10,000 fans from entering Golden 1 Center for the second time in a week, the Sacramento Kings put up a lackluster effort and lost to one of the league’s worst teams.

Following the 103-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, head coach Dave Joerger expressed his displeasure with his team’s effort, even showing a rare bit of emotion in his answer.

“We were awful,” Joerger said. “We played with no force, no physicality and no toughness whatsoever.”

Joerger was quick to exempt veteran big man Kosta Koufos from his comments. The 10-year vet brought his lunch pail like usual, finishing the night with 15 points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

The rest of the group, Joerger was less than happy with.

“Training wheels come off next season,” Joerger said. “We can talk about this after the season, but those guys have to feel it and they’re going to have to step up against teams like this or other teams.”

Joerger went young the entire second half, relying on De’Aaron Fox, Frank Mason III, Buddy Hield, Justin Jackson, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein to fight through the struggles. He sprinkled in minutes for JaKarr Sampson and Bruno Caboclo as well, but his young core was on full display and they fell flat.

“There is going to be some bumps and we are going to take steps forward and we’re going to take steps backward, but you’ve got to be ready to go and you’ve got to play with a certain amount of force and physicality,” Joerger added.

Some of the players cleared out early, others stood in to try and explain how the Kings dropped their 51st game of the season, this time to a team that came into the night with just 22 wins.

“It’s different, but we just have to play the game like professionals,” Hield said following the loss. “You can’t worry about what’s going on outside and whatever the noise is going on. We’ve just got to come out and handle our business and tonight, we didn’t handle it well. There’s no excuse to it. We’re professional. We have to go out there and do our job.”

Tuesday evening’s game was particularly frustrated for the team after they put in solid work at practice on Monday. For some reason, the energy didn’t carry over to the game the next night.

“I have no idea, that’s how it goes sometimes,” Cauley-Stein said of why practice didn’t carry over to the game. “We’re young. That’s it. Say that. We’re young.”

That excuse only works so long. 73 games into an NBA season, most of these players have seen enough court time to know what to expect on a game night. Of all the young players on the Kings’ roster, Cauley-Stein is the most experienced, playing 207 total games over his three seasons in the league.

The Kings will have to regroup and show that they are ready to finish the last second game strong. They’ll face their former teammate, Darren Collison, and the Indiana Pacers on Thursday evening. Indiana is currently tied for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and they come into Golden 1 Center riding a three game win streak.

NBA rumors: Chris Paul to start season with Thunder as trade talks stall

NBA rumors: Chris Paul to start season with Thunder as trade talks stall

Chris Paul and the Thunder might not want to be married, but a divorce is seeming less and less likely.

The Thunder acquired the nine-time All-Star along with two first-round draft picks and two pick swaps from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook.

The expectation was that the Thunder would try to move Paul to another team, but those discussions reportedly have petered out and the Thunder expect Paul to begin the season with the team, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday, citing sources.

Should Paul stick with the Thunder, OKC could still be a threat to make the NBA playoffs in the revamped Western Conference, which is bad news for a Kings team looking to make another leap and snap their 13-year playoff drought.

A starting five of Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams has the potential to be a frisky team. A motivated Paul could bring the best out of Gilgeous-Alexander and create a solid pick-and-roll combo with Adams. A Paul-led Thunder team would make 12 Western Conference teams with a legitimate shot to make the playoffs -- apologies to the Suns, Grizzles and T'Wolves -- making the West all the more challenging. 

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Of course, Paul could begin the season in OKC only to be dealt later on. But that would require a team wanting to take on the second-worst contract in the NBA.

Kings savagely roast FiveThirtyEight for Western Conference prediction

Kings savagely roast FiveThirtyEight for Western Conference prediction

After finishing last season at 39-43, many expect the Kings to make another leap this upcoming season and perhaps snap their 13-year playoff drought.

The folks over at FiveThirtyEight, however, don't see it that way.

With the NBA's free-agency frenzy all but over, the predictive website did what they do and posted their "Way-too-Early NBA Predictions" for next season.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the Kings are projected to finish at 33-49 and last in the vaunted Western Conference. That's right, dead last.

The Kings, naturally, had a response to such a wild forecast and took to Twitter to roast the mind-boggling prediction. 

Savage? Yes. Fair? Absolutely.

With another year of growth for De'Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield expected, coupled with the re-signing of Harrison Barnes and the free-agent additions of Dewayne Dedmon, Trevor Ariza, Corey Joseph and Richaun Holmes, the Kings have every reason to feel great about their chances of taking another step up next season. 

Yes, the Los Angeles Clippers, Lakers, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets all got better or treaded water (depending on how you feel about Russell Westbrook), and the Warriors, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers also are teams to be reckoned with in the West. But the Thunder suddenly is in rebuild mode and the Spurs continue to rely on the mid-range jump shot, so there are two teams the Kings could theoretically leap from last year's playoff teams.

The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns should be at the bottom of the barrel and, unless Andrew Wiggins suddenly lives up to his massive contract, the Minnesota Timberwolves also should continue to be at the bottom of the conference. So, the Kings' gripe is understandable.

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Should the Kings snap their playoff drought, expect their social media team to resurface this prediction come spring.