October 31, 2017, 6:30 pm
A slow start doomed the Kings and they could never recover, falling to the Pacers in Indiana 101-83 on Tuesday.
Sacramento had trouble scoring from the get go again, totaling just 13 points in the first quarter and not scoring their first bucket until three minutes into the game. They lacked energy and were being exploited by a Pacers team that is among the NBA’s best offensively this season.
The Kings weren’t moving without the ball, nor were they playing with any motive on offense. These things are becoming a bad trend and it’s going to need to change if they want to compete in games.
Defensively the Kings were alright, holding the Pacers to just 24 first quarter points is a victory in itself. Defense has been one of the strengths so far this season, but it’s far from perfect as teams are able to exploit them on the perimeter.
Things didn’t improve at all in the second quarter. The offense was a mess and the Pacers went up by as much as 27 near halftime. Hoop Ball’s Aaron Bruski said it best, a stagnant offense impacts every other facet of the game which means the Kings will always be a step behind other teams when they’re struggling on that side of the ball.
The Kings only scored 30 points in the first half, which is two less than what they totaled in the first half two nights ago against the Wizards, scoring 32 in the first half.
Turnovers were an issue for Sacramento, they had 10 of em’ which obviously didn’t help things. The Pacers looked and played like the superior team, putting emphasis on the Kings’ poor offense and lack of cohesion as a team.
Like they did on Sunday, things got marginally better in the second half. Shots were starting to fall for Sacramento but getting consistent stops proved to be a difficult task. It was simply another case of having to climb out of a massive hole for the Kings, and in the end it was just too insurmountable.
The Kings actually managed to hold the Pacers to just 14 points in the third, but they themselves only scored 18 points which wasn’t enough to really put a dent in the deficit. As mentioned following Sunday’s game, the potential this team has shown defensively is promising but their offense leaves so much to be desired.
Shades of the Joerger run Grizzlies can be seen, both defensively and offensively. The Grizzlies would be solid defensively each night, and there would be some nights when their offense was horrible and nothing would drop. That’s kind of what’s happening here for the Kings, except the offense is horrible every single night at the moment.
Things will hopefully click eventually, but it’s gonna take some time.
To everyone’s the surprise, Sacramento went off for 35 points in the fourth. De’Aaron Fox was a big reason for that, the Kings just look like a better team when he’s running the point. However, they needed offense like this earlier in the game when it really matters. At least they’ll have something to build on for next time.
There was no answer for Domantas Sabonis who went off for 12 points, 16 rebounds and five assists. He’s been a handful all season long but he really took the Kings to school tonight. Bojan Bogdanovic was also solid for Indiana dropping 17 points in 27 minutes.
Buddy Hield struggled yet again posting just four points on 2-of-9 shooting. He looks lost and his confidence is a little shaky early on. Hield needs to keep firing away and hope that he snaps out of this funk soon. The fact that he only played 19 minutes is also a little concerning. If Joerger starts to lose faith in Buddy, it could cause problems.
Skal Labissiere had eight points and eight rebounds off the bench but only shot 3-of-8 from the field. He’ll get spot starts every now and then when Z-Bo has a night off, so the big thing with him is staying ready each night. He’s not lacking in confidence which is promising.
The Kings have fallen to 1-6 on the season, dropping their fifth straight game. They have a quick turnaround as they are set to play the Celtics tomorrow in Boston. Tip-off is set for 4:30pm PST.
Three-point shooting: Pacers 12-of-29 (41.4 percent), Kings 2-of-14 (14.3 percent)
This is an area the Kings are constantly getting beaten in. They give up a lot of threes, and they don’t shoot a lot themselves. The fact that they only shot 14 threes overall goes back to their lack of identity on offense. Guys aren’t open enough to fire away from downtown, and when they are, it just isn’t falling. When someone like Buddy Hield starts to find his shot, the difference shouldn’t be as big.
Free-throws: Pacers 17-of-22, Kings 7-of-14
Like 3-pointers, getting to the free-throw line has been an issue for Sacramento too. Getting to the line is one thing, but to only shot 50 percent from the line is unacceptable. Guys aren’t attacking the rim, looking for contact. A disparity like this should never be this large when it comes to free-throws; it’s fundamental basketball.
De’Aaron Fox – 18 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL (9-of-18 FG).
Fox was easily the best player on the floor for Sacramento tonight. He’s probably been the best player all year too, playing with poise and finding ways to contribute across the board. His minutes are only going to go up from here, and hopefully his production will continue to increase with that. He was hitting his mid-range jumpers, getting to the rim and setting up his teammates. The future is certainly bright for young De’Aaron Fox.
Zach Randolph – 12 PTS & 5 REB (6-of-10 FG).
Randolph played a steady 23 minutes in his return to action. The Kings tried to get it to him in the post a little more often and he was somewhat productive as a result. It’s hard when the team lacks an offensive identity, but running the offense through Randolph in the post could help the Kings stabilize the game a bit more.