The Kings believed they had a good gameplan heading into their game against the Warriors at Golden 1 Center on Sunday night, and for three quarters, things were going well.
But then the Warriors' second unit outplayed the Kings for the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter before Steph Curry and Draymond Green re-entered the game, and Sacramento wasn't able to recover, losing 119-107 to Golden State.
The Kings opened the fourth quarter trailing 90-88 and had De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, Richaun Holmes, Terence Davis and Moe Harkless on the floor while Curry and Green sat as they normally do at the start of the final period.
That should have been the Kings' chance to take the lead and gain a little separation before the Warriors' stars checked back in. Instead, Golden State's role players outscored Sacramento 17-13 over the first seven minutes of the fourth, pushing their lead to 107-101.
"That killed us," Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters after the loss. "You can't do that, you can't give Steph Curry and Draymond Green a six-point lead when they come back in the game. It just can't happen. We talked about it as a staff, as a team, really. But it's one thing to talk about. It's another thing to go out there and do it. Give the Warriors credit, for you know, Gary Payton, he hadn't played in a while. He stepped up and knocked down some big threes. [Andrew] Wiggins hit that big three right before they got back in. If that happens, your chances of winning that game are not great.
"And with all that said, we still cut it to three. Buddy [Hield] hit three in transition, we got a stop and we're pushing it late. And then we threw another errant pass, so a lot of what made it hard for us tonight was self-inflicted which, at least, that means we can fix it."
The Kings ultimately were outscored 29-19 in the fourth quarter and fell to 1-2 on the young 2021-22 NBA season.
Walton knows brighter days are ahead for the Kings, but the loss to the Warriors still doesn't feel good.
"Tough loss," Walton said. "Way too many mistakes tonight. 19 turnovers [leading to] 29 points [for the Warriors]. It's gonna be hard to win games like that. We're frustrated. We're going to be fine as a team. That's another really good team we just played. We didn't do a good enough job of taking care of the ball, and then making, making it hard on others.
"Steph did what he's gonna do, but we made the night hard on him. He missed some shots but then the rest of the guys had too much. So, we're gonna get better, we're gonna win some games, but it was another tough one for us tonight."
The Kings have two days off before beginning a four-game road trip that starts with a matchup against the defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, followed by games in New Orleans, Dallas and Utah.
Walton and the coaching staff likely will use the time before the game against the Suns to clean things up in practice. If they don't right the ship, the Kings could return home from the upcoming trip in a deep hole that might be hard to climb out of.