November 22, 2017, 4:30 pm
When you lose a game by 46 points, changes need to be made.
Coach Dave Joerger did just that when he shifted the Kings’ starting rotation after an embarrassing loss to the Hawks. The result? The Kings defeat a good Blazers team in Sacraamento in probably the team’s best performance of the year all-around.
However, in the two games to follow it was right back to what has dropped the 4-13 Kings to the bottom of the Western Conference as they were beaten by the Blazers and Nuggets by 12 and 16, respectively.
“Losing is one thing, but we have to do a much better job of competing.” – Coach Joerger after the Hawks game
The lack of consistency has been a broken record so far this season and it was somewhat expected with a lineup consisting of such young players. But, what wasn’t expected was the lack of fire the team has played with at times.
A key piece of evidence from these early double-digit losses is the way the Kings have been outrebounded. Against the Hawks, it was an unbelievable margin of 61-39 in favor of Atlanta. That was in part due to the fact the Kings made only 35 percent of their shots, but that wasn’t the only game.
In the loss to the Nuggets, Sacramento lost the rebounding battle by 17. And that day, the Nuggets and Kings shot just a percent differently from the field (DEN 48.8 percent, SAC 47.7 percent).
There have been lapses, full quarters even, where the team just doesn’t seem like they’re in it. Against the Nuggets, the two teams were tied at 47 at the half. However, the Nuggets, without their head coach, went into the locker room and set their sights on the third quarter. The Kings, though, took an extended break as they were outscored 34-23 in the third period setting themselves up for that 16-point loss.
Against the Blazers, it was an abysmal second quarter in which the team was outscored by 11 that buried them. For many of the team’s losses it has been one quarter that did them in.
It’s the breakdowns like that that are so tough for many to cope with and it’s lackadaisical play like that which allows a rookie like Frank Mason to get some playing time.
Mason has been a solid contributor to the team as of late and has posted Sacramento’s highest plus-minus in two of the team’s last three games as a result. His hustle play and overall effectiveness has been a much needed boost for a team that has found itself out-of-whack at times to say the least.
It’s a testament to the effort that Mason has added, but also a result of lack of production at times from the guards ahead of him.
Joerger made the move to go to a small two-guard lineup (with two point guards in the backcourt) and shifted Zach Randolph to the five spot looking for any kind of advantage and for the first game, it worked. But, Joerger can’t mix and match starting lineups every game and hope that a benched player has a candle lit inside them and balls out like Willie Cauley-Stein most recently did. It’s up to the team to have a spark no matter the score. Lately, the Kings haven’t had much of that and the final scores have been the proof.
It’s time for the Kings to start playing like a hungry team. The losses are going to come at a somewhat rapid rate, but it’s not too much for fans to expect a competitive effort for 48 minutes.