The last two weeks have been littered with missed opportunities for the Sacramento Kings. Close losses to the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Nuggets and Warriors killed the team's momentum. They got back on the right track Monday against the Orlando Magic, but the turnover bug struck Tuesday night in Phoenix, costing the Kings a chance for a win.
Planted in last place in the Western Conference, the Suns fell behind big in the first half, but didn't go away. They turned up the defensive pressure to come away with a 115-111 victory over the Kings.
The loss pushed Sacramento back below the .500 mark at 20-21. Here are the positives and the negatives from the loss.
Giving it Away
The Kings over-dribbled, forced the action and were just downright sloppy in the loss to Phoenix. Sacramento couldn't hold onto the ball, which allowed the Suns to stick around and eventually take over the game.
Against one of the worst defensive teams in the league, the Kings turned the ball over a shocking 26 times, including 17 in the second half as the team collapsed.
De'Aaron Fox gave it up a career-high eight times, including seven after the intermission. Buddy Hield added five turnovers and Bogdan Bogdanovic lost it four times.
It's hard to win a game when you give up 33 points off of turnovers.
Another Late Collapse
Sacramento came out of the first half with a 19-point advantage and pushed the lead to 21 early in the third period, but then the ball got sticky.
When the Kings move the rock, it's a thing of beauty. When they over dribble and force the action, they show their youth.
Their frustrations on the offensive end often lead to a lack of focus on the defensive side of the ball and the game can snowball out of control quickly.
Take all the excuses and throw them out the window. Playing without their leading scorer, the Suns ran over the Kings in the second half to the tune of 62-39.
Ben McLemore wasn't part of the grand plan coming into the season for Sacramento. He was acquired in a move to break up Garrett Temple's salary and there was even a chance that he wouldn't make the opening day roster.
Despite playing a limited role all season long, the former Kansas star showed up big time Tuesday night. He ran the floor and hit his open jumpers on his way to a season-high 20 point performance on 7-of-10 shooting.
McLemore is built to play in an uptempo style. He has speed, athleticism, and a smooth looking shot. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old wing, the Kings have plenty of players at his position. When he gets an opportunity to play, he needs to take advantage like he did against the Suns.
Losses happen, but the Kings had a golden opportunity to finish above .500 at the midway point of the season and they let it slip through their fingers.
It's a reoccurring theme for the team over the last two weeks. They get up big and they let off the gas. Those things happen against good teams, but there are no excuses for dropping a game to one of the worst team's in the NBA. At least not if the Kings want to be in playoff contention come April.
This is another in a long line of a learning experience for Sacramento. They are now tied for the ninth spot in the standings with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz.