SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings spent a good part of the season learning how to win games. That process started all over again with the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.
After falling to the Washington Wizards 130-122 in overtime Friday night, the Kings have lost seven in a row. They are competitive, but for the second straight game, they blew a monster lead late.
“It doesn’t feel good when you miss shots down the stretch, it doesn’t feel good when you’re up 25 or 15 or whatever, but we’re maturing,” Arron Afflalo said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and we’re still trying to learn how to win.”
Sacramento opened the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead over Washington, but John Wall and Bradley Beal kept playing. With Wall breaking down the Kings defense, Beal got fat on the perimeter, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the fourth and another five in the extra frame.
“We’ve just got to find a way to hold our leads, we’ve been giving up these big leads,” Darren Collison said. “You figure we close these teams out early, they may just throw in the towel.”
The Wizards outscored the Kings 34-19 in the fourth to force an overtime session. Collison and Willie Cauley-Stein kept the Kings in the game with a series of pick-and-roll dunks. But the defensive stops never came.
“We’re not getting blown out,” Afflalo said. “We’ve lost six or seven in a row now, but we’re coming in here every game thinking we should have won. It doesn’t mean much in the standings, but we are getting better and trying to do the right thing.”
Since the Cousins trade, the Kings are 1-7. They’ve lost twice in overtime over that stretch and they have held leads in plenty of those games.
“It’s really tough, it’s really tough,” rookie Buddy Hield said. “We’ve just got to keep working, keep learning. In this league, you’ve got to learn how to win. It doesn’t come easy.”
You have to have a short memory in the NBA. The Kings return to the court looking to snap their skid on Saturday evening against the Denver Nuggets. It’s a work in progress, but at least they are competing while they transition to a young group of players.