No matter who the team on the other end of the court is, the Kings' toughest opponent has been themselves.
In a 109-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the Kings once again shot themselves in the foot. There was no mincing of words postgame. Sacramento's third quarter performance could only be described as "disgusting."
Heading into halftime, the Kings were down just 67-64 to the defending Western Conference champions. It was shaping up to be an exciting second half.
That's when Sacramento became predictable, as the Suns outscored the Kings 31-12 in the third quarter.
“They didn’t make any adjustments," Kings coach Luke Walton said postgame. "They guarded us the same way in Phoenix, it stalled us out in the first half in Phoenix, we found our rhythm in the second half. They guarded us that way in the first half tonight, we made a lot of shots that covered up for some of it. We gave into it. It was like a soft mentality that we started the third quarter with on both ends. That’s unacceptable for where we’re trying to get to. We know how they’re going to guard us, and we let them take us out of our rhythm with it. We have to be mentally and physically tougher than that to start games and start the third.”
"But what I’m most disappointed in is wasted opportunities. We let Phoenix take us out of what we’re doing, and we gave in. At that point, we might as well not even play. Sit here and have a practice with how we came out in that third quarter.”
The Kings surrendered 38 points to the Suns off turnovers alone. Of the 24 total turnovers by Sacramento, 11 of them came from De'Aaron Fox (5) and Harrison Barnes (6). A third quarter consisting of 10 Kings turnovers proved to be their demise.
“We’re getting to hit the road again," Walton said. "We have to learn to fight through all that fatigue and we didn’t do a great job of that tonight. 38 points off of turnovers. Some of the stuff offensively was fine, but that third quarter was disgusting, and we have to take care of the ball.”
“When I went back in the game (in the fourth), I just thought to myself ‘we can’t lose this game like this.'" De'Aaron Fox told reporters. "As a team, we’ve been playing well in these first 10 games. Just going out there, I wanted to make this a game and give ourselves a chance. I think we did at the end of the game, but ultimately it comes down to a close crunch-time game. We didn’t win it today, but just about all our games besides Dallas have been a close game. I thought that was good how we fought back in the fourth quarter, but the third quarter we have to figure that out.”
Of the Kings' six losses this season, five of them have been decided by nine points or less. Whether it's a sluggish first half, second half or just for a quarter, the Kings continue to shoot themselves in the foot. What's reassuring for Sacramento though, is that they still have a chance to win most of these games despite their self-inflicted mistakes.
Fix the little things and this Kings' team will make some noise.