SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento Kings are 1-5 to start the regular season and on pace to win 14 games. But at least they’re not winless like the Utah Jazz (0-8).
In the Kings’ latest loss to the Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento was outrebounded 52-33 and allowed Portland to make 9-of-20 shots from deep. Head coach Michael Malone is aware what he must stress to his young roster in practice, but he gathered some positives from the double-digit defeat.
“I’m just happy that last game against Portland we finally had a game where we kept somebody under 100 (points) and under 44-percent from the field.” Malone stated at Tuesday’s shootaround.
Indeed, the loss on November 9 was the Kings’ best performance since their lone victory versus the Denver Nuggets on opening night. Consistent energy and focus has regularly been an issue for Sacramento.
While DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas have flourished offensively this season, their teammates are struggling to the point where Malone has decided to tweak the lineup facing the Brooklyn Nets on November 13. The coach specifically seeks to reform the defense, which is currently tied for last in the NBA in defensive efficiency (107.2).
“Our points per game allowed, our field goal percentage defense, our three-point field goal percentage defense is nowhere close to being where it needs to be,” Malone added. “But then you look at a couple other things. Compared to teams here in the past we’re doing a much better job of protecting the paint, a much better job of getting back in transition (and) giving up fewer points per game.”
Malone has also been pleased with the ascent of Ben McLemore. Since opening the year with a four-point, 1-for-7 performance, the rookie shooting guard has shot 48.7-percent from the floor and recorded 3-of-3 3-pointers when hosting Portland. Malone plans to increase his reliance on the 2013 seventh overall pick.
“The way he’s played coming off the bench…shooting the ball with confidence, making plays. He’s our best athlete. So he’s definitely one of the few bright spots in a very dismal 1-5 season.”
A five-game losing streak is never pretty, but not all is doom and gloom in the Capital City. The team is growing and discovering an identity, which won’t immediately reflect on the box score.
Photo Credit: Randy Pench / Sacbee.com