SACRAMENTO – Like a donut, there’s a gaping hole in the Sacramento Kings’ defense.
The Kings (15-28) were exploited by the high-octane Denver Nuggets (22-21) 125-117 Sunday night. Both teams sat injured starters (DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari), but the home team didn’t offer excuses.
“I think it really just comes down to, ‘Can you and are you willing to put forth the effort every possession to keep a guy out of the paint?’” head coach Michael Malone questioned after the game.
In addition to 10 3-pointers and 31 free throws, the Nuggets powered 58 points in the paint, which included 33 fast break points. The Kings allowed 22 points off turnovers, which played perfectly into Denver’s hands.
“I just couldn’t get over the amount of layups,” Malone added. “If a team is going to score on you and beat you that’s one thing, but when they’re constantly getting layup after layup, that has to (tick) you off after a while, and it never (ticked) our guys off.”
Kenneth Faried recorded a double-double and Timofey Mozgov had a stellar night shooting 5-for-5 (and 4-for-4 from the stripe) off the bench. Ty Lawson dribbled and dashed his way to a game-high 27 points.
The Kings kept pace with their own run-and-gun operation but were unable to apply gas when down two points with 10 minutes in the fourth quarter. Sacramento’s starting backcourt had another big night with a combined 41 points, but Isaiah Thomas played inefficiently scoring 22 on 21 shot attempts. Thomas wasn’t fazed.
“Coach told me just to keep shooting, because most of the shots I’m taking are shots that I can make,” the guard confirmed. “They’re pretty good shots, they’re just not falling right now. I’m just (going to) keep my confidence up and keep being aggressive.”
Thomas’ assertiveness could be used on the Kings defense which is ranked twenty-eighth in the NBA in points and field goal percentage allowed. Sacramento will travel to face the Utah Jazz (15-29) on Monday so energy will be at a premium.
Photo Credit: Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacbee.com