• A double-digit lead and a 70-point first half wasn’t enough for the Kings as they dropped their third straight game.

    The Pelicans took advantage of a cold Sacramento second half to win 114-106.

    After the offense shot 56 percent in the first half, they lost heat in the second as they shot just 35 percent from then on.

    It didn’t help that the Pelicans, playing without their star big man Anthony Davis still had a three-time All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins to look to. And Cousins feasted on a smorgasbord of Kings’ big men as he dropped 41 points, 23 rebounds and six assists in his long-anticipated return to Sacramento.

    Fans who gave the once Sacramento-franchise player a standing ovation had to witness Cousins and his team dismantle an inept defense for the latter 24 minutes of the game.

    The Kings led 48-29 with 9:22 left in the second quarter before being outscored 85-to-58 to close out the contest.

    In the first half Sacramento could do no wrong as they moved the ball well and found the easy bucket. Their aforementioned field goal percentage and 19 assists to seven turnovers were an obvious sign of that.

    However, in the second half, it was a different story. The Kings had just six assists to an even six turnovers.

    Coach Dave Joerger had the tough assignment of figuring out a rotation to slow down the Pelicans offense in the secondd half, but he never did find the answer.

    After trying various combos, Joerger went to the vets to close out the game, but a lack of a closer did the Kings in as the ball was passed around with little off-ball movement to show for it which led to contested, forced jumpers.

    Rookie De’Aaron Fox had 14 points on 13 shots as he shot 30 percent for the game. Skal Labissiere finished with 11 points in just 15 minutes off the bench as well. But Labissiere wasn’t able to crack the court much in the second half as Joerger went to Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein.

    In addition to the defensive struggles the Kings lost their long ball in the second half. After going 6-of-12 in the first, the team made just one of eight attempts in the second.

    An implosion of this magnitude shouldn’t come as much of a surprise with a team as young as the Kings, but what is worrisome is the lack of closing out games. The Kings looked like a team down double digits when there were still a couple minutes to play and just a points to make up.

    Lucky for the team, they stay home for their next game as they take on the Wizards on Sunday.

    NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

    Skal Labissiere – 11 PTS, 3 REB, 2 BLK (4-of-6 FG)

    As mentioned, Labissiere found himself on the bench when the dust settled and the Kings headed to the locker room. He had a plus-1 +/- but wasn’t given much of an opportunity in his limited minutes.

    Bogdan Bogdanovic – 10 PTS, 4 AST (4-of-7 FG)

    Not only did Bogdanovic hit a clutch couple of shots and nice passes, but he showed the most confidence he had shown since joining the Kings. Although he is 25, he’s still just a rookie in a fast-paced league that shows little mercy on rookies and he held his own.

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