There’s an issue with winning. It doesn’t take long before the expectations begin to change.
The Sacramento Kings were estimated to win around 25 games this season. They came into Thursday evening at 23-21, completely blowing away an prediction around the league.
And then they laid an egg in the first game of their season-long six-game road trip.
After being handled by the Kings at Golden 1 Center over the weekend, the Hornets got their revenge Thursday day night at the Spectrum Center, dropping Sacramento by a final of 114-95.
“We’ve got to play better, but it’s a lot of young guys at the same time,” coach Dave Joerger told cameras following the loss. “It’s going to take a while to gel and find a rhythm, especially on the road it’s not easy for young guys.”
Joerger and his team better get used to playing away from Golden 1 Center. They play five more away from home over the next week and a half. It’s a stretch that very well could decide their fate of their season.
After yielding a 3-pointer to open the scoring, the Kings rattled off a 15-0 run to take a big lead early. Joerger went to his second unit early and they didn’t respond well in their first look.
At the end of the first, the Kings held a 25-20 advantage and then the wheels fell of the bus.
Charlotte found a way to disrupt the Kings offensive flow in the second quarter and ran the visiting team off the court.
“I think right at the end of the second, they went on their run, it’s a game of runs,” rookie Marvin Bagley told reporters in the locker room. “We tried to come back and go on ours, but they continued to make shots. We just had to find some way to win, but it just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Charlotte dropped a 43-point quarter on the Kings to take a 63-50 advantage to the intermission. Sacramento cut the Hornets' lead down to six in the late third, but the home team finished the quarter out with another run to take a double-digit lead to the fourth.
Sacramento pulled within nine in the early fourth, but then the Hornets took control. The Kings over dribbled, turned the ball over 18 times, missed their free throws and played lackadaisical defense in the loss.
Buddy Hield led the way with 24 points on 6-of-11 from behind the arc, but Joerger was in no mood to break down his performance following the loss.
“We just got smoked, I do not want to talk about any individual’s shooting,” Joerger told media members.
It sounds like Joerger’s expectations are shifting as well. He knows the importance of the road trip and how it can impact the remainder of the season. Getting off to a start like this was not what the Kings’ coach hoped for.
The Kings make their way to Detroit for leg two of their journey. Like the Hornets, this is the second time in a week that these two teams will do battle.
Blake Griffin missed the previous matchup between the two teams, but is expected to play. The Pistons will also being playing on the second night of a back-to-back after hosting the Miami Heat the night before.
After a loss in Charlotte, the Kings need every advantage they can get to avoid an 0-2 start to the trip.