SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings have hit rock bottom. It’s not enough that they lost their fifth straight game or the fact that they have lost nine out of ten. This team is checked out and there are still 17 games remaining in the season.
The beneficiary of the Kings latest collapse was the Utah Jazz who walked into Sleep Train Arena and stepped all over the Kings by a final of 108-99. The score doesn’t truly capture the lackadaisical effort by the home team who trailed by as many as 25.
“There’s a lot of frustration in this locker room,” DeMarcus Cousins said following the game. “I believe everyone believes that we should be a lot better than we are. We're just frustrated that we’re not. We haven’t performed to the level of expectations, so it’s a lot of frustration with that.”
The Kings’ All-Star big looked fresh after missing Friday night’s game due to suspension. Cousins finished the night with 31 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and one giant jab at his head coach.
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“That wasn’t a suspension from the organization, that was one from the head coach,” Cousins said. “There’s a difference.”
Cousins and head coach George Karl haven’t seen eye-to-eye plenty of times this season. The 25-year-old center gave Karl an earful during a timeout of the Kings' loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday, which was caught on camera.
Cousins and a few of his teammates took exception to the officiating during the fourth quarter of the loss and while he openly admits that his delivery was wrong, Cousins stands by the message that Karl should have fought harder for his team.
The team was quick to clarify after the game that it was the organization that levied the suspension on Cousins and not Karl. That doesn’t change Cousins’ opinion that his coach had a huge role in the decision.
The season has spun out of control and this is just one issue facing the franchise. What is clear is that the Kings have lost their way under Karl. Since Jan. 23, they are just 5-17 and they now sit at a season-high 15 games under .500.
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“It’s been a tough stretch,” Karl said. “Losing causes different types of mental reactions and Sunday afternoon games sometimes have that dullness to it.”
Dullness was an understatement. The Kings looked completely disengaged for much of the afternoon.
“Defensively we weren’t very good and offensively we weren’t very good,” Karl astutely pointed out. “For three quarters we’re not playing.”
There were a few exceptions to the rule. Cousins played hard early and Omri Casspi tried to single-handedly keep the team in the game. The veteran forward finished the night with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and hit all four of his 3-point shots in 26 minutes of action.
The fact that he didn’t play more was startling. As the Kings were making their charge in the fourth, Casspi was sent to the bench once again.
“I played him a lot,” Karl explained after the game. “I thought he was tiring a little bit. The energy of the game, I thought was going to be won with speed and movement.”
Darren Collison started his third straight game for the injured Ben McLemore. He added 14 points and handed out five assists in 32 minutes of action.
Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds and surprisingly logged 29 minutes. That is only the third time Cauley-Stein has played more than 20 minutes since Feb. 8.
The Kings fly to Los Angeles to take on Lakers Tuesday night hoping to somehow get back on the right path. They return to Sleep Train Arena on Wednesday to face the Pelicans, trying to snap a six-game home losing streak.