The Kings are getting pushed around. At this point, it might have even reached the level of being bullied.
First, it was the San Antonio Spurs who caught the Kings off guard in the NBA’s Orlando bubble restart, but what happened on Sunday was something much worse.
Coach Luke Walton and his band of playoff hopefuls got their lunch money stolen. The Orlando Magic throttled the Kings and it wasn’t even close.
“We’ve got to give Orlando a ton of credit -- they played harder, they played smarter,” coach Luke Walton said. “We didn’t bring the physicality that we talked about all day, that it was going to take to be in the type of game and they made us pay for that.”
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Physicality is one word for it. Heart, pride, effort - those items were lacking from the Kings’ performance as well.
Walton pointed to the team’s highly anticipated loss to the Spurs on Friday night as a contributing factor. With games stacked up every other day, you have to have a short memory, but that is sometimes easier said than done.
“We’re in uncharted territory right now,” Walton explained. “The season stopped, we’re in a bubble, we played in this high-energy, high-intensity opening game that both teams need. We end up coming out on the losing side of it. And like a team that isn’t there yet, hasn’t made it, doesn’t know what that’s like, as far as experience, now you’ve lost this big anticipated game and now you have a letdown.”
While Walton wasn’t shocked that it happened, he was disappointed with his team for allowing the carryover to take place.
Is the season over for the Kings? Not necessarily. The Spurs are now a game and a half ahead of them in the race for the ninth seed and Portland also is a game up.
Sacramento, like fellow inexperienced squads for the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans, has played poorly early in the tournament. There still are six games to get back in the chase, but the schedule gets more difficult for the Kings from here on out.
The Kings face the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, followed by a back-to-back against the Pelicans and Brooklyn Nets on Thursday and Friday. It will take a very good showing in all three of those games to put the Kings back in the running for a playoff spot.
Following the game, Walton said that he would revisit the team’s rotation and starting lineup before Tuesday’s matchup with Luka Doncic and the Mavs.
“We’ll look at it, as soon as I get back to the hotel and I get into the film,” Walton said. “That was disappointing. Disappointing to say the least.”
No one expected the Kings to go 8-0 in the restart, but through two games, the team looked lost. They have a very short window to get back on track if they hope to salvage a once-promising season.