LOS ANGELES -- After experiencing the highest of highs Thursday in their win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Sacramento Kings were fed a little bit of their own medicine Sunday evening at Staples Center.
Leading 110-103 with 4:30 remaining, the Kings looked like they were going to make it two straight over the Lakers. And then they went cold. Ice cold.
From Iman Shumpert to Justin Jackson, Buddy Hield to Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Kings’ basket seemed to get smaller and smaller with every miss.
Sacramento shot just 33.3 percent in the final 12 minutes, including a brutal 1-of-10 mark from behind the 3-point line.
“It was like reverse of what happened in our game in Sacramento,” Hield said. “They made shots down the stretch and we didn’t make shots down the stretch. We didn’t close out.”
It wasn’t one player. Everyone on the Kings missed at least one open look. Shumpert wasn’t available for the media following the loss, but he turned to twitter to apologize to his teammates.
That's on me. I begged the universe for chance after chance and got every opportunity to win that game, just couldn't throw it in the ocean. Happy New Year to the Lake Show. smfh. My bad Scores.— Iman. (@imanshumpert) December 31, 2018
No one in the Kings locker room passed blame on Shumpert, who missed three straight looks inside of a two-minute stretch in the fourth. In fact, they stood up for their leader after the loss.
“We ride with him all the time,” Hield said. “He’s the guy that keeps our energy on this team. He had some great looks, we all had some great looks. We didn’t put it in the hole.”
Poor offense led to issues on the defensive end for Sacramento. Los Angeles finished the game on an 18-4 run to come away with a 121-114 win.
“Shots come and shots go,” coach Dave Joerger said. “We gave up 121 points, [including] lots and lots of blow-bys. They got a lot of loose balls and those are things that you have to get, especially on the road.”
Brandon Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit big shots in the closing minutes and with the game still undecided, the Lakers made their free throws to put the game out of reach.
“We just didn’t get stops down the stretch,” Fox said. “The last few games that we’ve won, we got stops down the stretch and we didn’t do that today.”
The mood in the locker room was different. This one stung. And with high hopes for the season, losses like this could come back to haunt the team later in the year.
“Trying to get into the playoffs in this conference, you really start thinking about the ones that you really let slip,” Fox said.
It’s been a long time since Sacramento’s players have had to concern themselves with playoff talk before the calendar flips to January. But at 19-17, the Kings have a goal in mind and it includes playing deep into April.
The team flew home following the loss. They’ll take New Years Eve off and then host a quality Portland Trail Blazers team Tuesday at Golden 1 Center.