The Kings know exactly what they need to do in order to win games. The problem is that they consistently fail to execute.
They go into each game with a specific plan and come out of every losing effort with a diagnosis that almost always centers around a lack of execution.
Against a team like the Utah Jazz, mistakes are extremely costly. Nearly every turnover, missed rebound, lay-up, etc. will be capitalized on against teams as polished as Utah.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what happens," Kings center Richaun Holmes told reporters postgame. "A couple of lapses after playing hard, and you have a team like Utah, a good team like that, they’re going to make you pay for it. Every time we have a lapse, we pay for it. That’s how it happens, it goes from (four-point deficit) to 14 just like that. Two lapses, that’s two 3s, a couple free throws, 10-point swing.”
“Playing a team like that, Utah, they capitalize off everything," De'Aaron Fox added. "A missed lay-up, a turnover. They basically scored off all of our turnovers, but they capitalize off every single mistake.”
In addition to playing a clean game of basketball, Sacramento had a plan to up their physicality against teams like the Jazz, who are anchored near the rim by center Rudy Gobert.
“Our first game (after the road trip) yesterday we talked about physicality, talked about other teams getting to us and pushing us off our spots," Harrison Barnes said. "First play of the game tonight, we get pushed off our spot and can’t execute the first play. What it comes down to, is us doing the things that we talk about.”
“Everyone’s frustrated, but at the end of the day it’s a matter of us as players looking in the mirror and doing what we’re talking about.”
The Kings have a lot of exciting, young talent that play a big role on the team already. One downside to young players playing such important minutes, is the lack of experience and learning and developing on the fly.
“Guys that play big minutes for us are still figuring the game out," coach Luke Walton said. "We have to continue to pick them up and teach them on the go. We’ll turn it around, we’ll start winning games again at some point. It feels heavy right now, but we’ll get there.”
Recent reports indicate that Walton's job could be on the line if the Kings continue to struggle. If you were to ask the players, they would place the blame on themselves.
“The coaching staff comes in every day and does their job well," Holmes told reporters. "They scout the other team, give us what we need in order to be put in the best position on the floor. The blame on the coaches I never really understood too much from my perspective. When we’re playing somebody, blame No. 22 out there in purple. The box-outs missed, things of that sort … blame me for that, blame the players for that.
"That’s just always how I felt about it.”
The Kings, in search of their first playoff appearance in 15 years, are capable of being one of the better teams in the league. They just need to practice what they've been preaching, and continue to hold one another accountable.
“We always stay together," Holmes added. "We have conversations about what we need to clean up, we talk about it all the time. It’s a topic of conversation. But talking about it doesn’t win you games. The conversation is there, the energy is there, the want-to seems to be there.
"Just gotta get it done.”