Kings' defensive struggles continue against Zion, Pelicans

Chimezie Metu, Zion Williamson

The Kings got a front-row seat to Zion Williamson’s high-flying theatrics on Sunday. That’s not a good thing, considering Sacramento's five players were trying to slow him down in the agonizing 128-123 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Williamson scored 31 points and racked up some major highlights along the way, overshadowing a career-high 43 points from De’Aaron Fox. In the process, the Kings gave up at least 120 points for the eighth straight game to set a dubious defensive franchise record.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated also provided some more historical context on Sunday’s tough loss for the Kings.

The Kings rank dead last in the league when it comes to defensive rating (120.5), which measures how many points a team gives up per 100 possessions. Fourteen contests through the 72-game campaign, the Kings are on pace to have the worst single-season defensive rating by a team in NBA history.

Perhaps the most deflating stat for the Kings in their efforts to contain Williamson -- he shot 13-of-15 from the field. His 86.6 field-goal percentage was the highest single-game mark by a 30-point scorer in Pelicans franchise history, according to Spears.

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“As a group, we just have to be better about showing resistance, especially in the paint,” Harrison Barnes told reporters after the game.


Take this baseline layup, for example. Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes look more like spectators than defenders.

It’s a difficult time to be a Kings fan. Ditto for coach Luke Walton, who showed plenty of emotion on the sideline Sunday night.

“I’m frustrated right now and it came out tonight,” Walton said. “But I do believe it is best to keep your cool for most of the time. Tonight I thought we needed a little something extra. Like I said, these are tough times.”

Walton will have a couple of days to regroup his squad before a stiff test against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.