What happened to the Sacramento Kings? They’ve been treading just above rock bottom for the better part of a month, but it doesn’t get much worse than the performance they put forth Wednesday in Detroit.
The Kings looked completely disinterested through the first half, almost as if they were just going to show up in the third quarter and blow a completely depleted Pistons team out of the water.
That didn’t happen. In fact, the Kings were embarrassed by a team missing 60 percent of its starting lineup, falling by a final of 127-106.
“Basketball is a simple game, defend without fouling, make the right play and knock down shots early,” Luke Walton told reporters following the loss. “I feel like we didn't do any of those things. Now, I don't know where our competitive spirit was or because of injuries we thought the game might be easy.”
The Kings looked like a team that has completely lost its way. Players started hunting for shots in the third quarter and throwing up one bad 3-point attempt after another.
Instead of attacking the rim, it was a series of misses, followed by defensive rebounds for Detroit. The only time the offense looked anywhere near cohesive was when Walton went to the bench, turning to a group that included Cory Joseph, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and Harry Giles.
Giles has played sparingly over the last week and Bazemore and Tolliver made their debuts with Sacramento after coming over in a trade over the weekend.
“I think our bad stretches are happening for too long, too many times,” De’Aaron Fox told media members. “There are times where we are out there playing good basketball and there are times where we're not. I said it before, you just try to play the best basketball you can for the most amount of time. I don’t think we're doing that right now.”
On the defensive end, the Kings didn’t move their feet and they fouled at will. 12 of the 13 players who stepped on the floor were called for personal fouls, including five each for Buddy Hield and Dewayne Dedmon.
In total, the Kings picked up 28 personal fouls as a team and sent the Pistons to the line for a staggering 44 free-throw attempts, of which they hit 37. Sacramento was outscored by 25 points at the foul line in a 21-point loss.
“There are times where our defense looks great and then we're not making shots,” Fox said. “There are times where we're making shots but we're trading baskets. We just have to be able to piece it together for as long as we can. Like I said before, we can't let our offense affect our defense or vice versa.”
The Kings have now dropped six straight and they are just 3-15 over their last 18 games. At 15-29, they are rudderless and in desperate need of a win.
“It's about where we're going and I'm a very patient person,” Walton said. “I believe in our group, but we need to do a lot of things including starting games with a much more competitive, engaged mindset. So, I still have all the belief in the world in our team. It's still surreal to be coaching this team, but there are some things that we need to improve on and improve on quickly because it's too late in the season to be having these same types of mistakes so frequently.”
With 38 games remaining in the season, the Kings have officially hit a new low. There is still time to make the season respectable and build for next year, but changes have to be made.
Whether that is a rotational move or a trade or something more drastic, the team needs a shock to the system and the current path the Kings are on is completely unacceptable by any standard.