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Kings 99, Clippers 119: Listless in Los Angeles

The Kings were once again embarrassed on the second night of a back-to-back.
By | 27 Comments | Dec 12, 2023

Dec 6, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (left) and Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk (0) battle for the ball in first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Facing off on the second night of a back-to-back against a Clipper squad that beat them handily in Sacramento two weeks ago in their last back-to-back contest, the Kings played listless and inconsistent on both ends of the court on route to a 119-99 beatdown in Los Angeles. The Kings again showed they have a consistency problem—after a team-record 25 made threes against the Nets on Monday, the Kings made just 10 threes and shot 27% from deep and 41.9% from the field against the Clippers, and failed to handle Los Angeles’ physicality on both ends of the court. The Kings fell to 0-3 in their three back-to-back match-ups this season, which included the 131-117 loss to the Clippers in Sacramento on November 29—and they had no real excuse in tonight’s contest, given that the Clippers also played on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Keegan Murray led the Kings with 17 points and 7 rebounds, leading the team in both in points and minutes played as Mike Brown pulled his other starters midway through the 3rd quarter. De’Aaron Fox had 14 points, 3 assists, and 4 turnovers while shooting 5-16 from the field. Domantas Sabonis had 15 points and 10 rebounds but struggled to hang with the physical tone the Clippers set early in the game. The night was best summed up when Brown won his coaches challenge mid-way through the 3rd quarter, but the refs ruled that neither team had had possession and opted for a jump-ball – which the Kings lost, and which then led to layup by Ivica Zubac. It was categorically bad night for Sacramento from start to finish, although the reserve squad of Kessler Edwards, Sasha Vezenkov, Chris Duarte, and Jordan Ford deserve hat tips for their energy late in garbage time. If not for a 22-9 run by that squad to end the game, Sacramento would have finished with season low stats across the board.

The Kings sluggish offense started from the jump, as it seemed all their shots in the 1st quarter came up short. Fox got the offense going to close out the period, scoring two straight threes and throwing a laser of a pass to Keegan for a gorgeous layup. But the Clippers also ended the quarter on a heater and hit 55% from deep to hold a 32-24 lead after the 1st period. Things didn’t get much better to start the 2nd quarter – while Malik Monk connected with JaVale McGee on two pretty ally-oops, the chaotic duo sandwiched those two plays with multiple mistakes. McGee had a goaltend on the other end followed by an offensive foul trying to spring Monk free on a screen, and Monk capped it off by fouling Norman Powell on a three point shot. This stretch of self-inflicted wounds by the Kings sparked the big run by Los Angeles, as the Clippers lead snowballed into an avalanche of easy deep, mid-range, and paint buckets. Los Angeles held a 70-48 lead going into the half and shot 59% from the field and 50% from three while also outscoring the Kings in the paint 32-26—all while the Kings failed to consistently hit even the good looks from deep (4-18 from three in the half) that had fallen just 24 hours ago against the Nets.

Sacramento falls to 13-9 on the season, and all 9 of their losses have come against just 4 teams – the Clippers, Warriors, Rockets, and Pelicans. It’s hard to see the Kings getting to the spot they want come mid-April when they keep repeating repeat losses against their Western Conference rivals.

The Kings return home for a 6-game homestand that starts on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

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JoeNoSay
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December 12, 2023 11:26 pm

Ugh. This is why we can’t have nice things.

RikSmits
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December 13, 2023 4:20 am
Reply to  JoeNoSay

FIFY: This is why we can’t have back to back nice things.

Jack
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December 13, 2023 6:04 am
Reply to  RikSmits

You know what happened. When the Clippers lost that double overtime game they got together as a team and decided they would never lose to the Kings ever again.

deepshot22
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December 13, 2023 6:00 am

First game I’ve turned off in a long time.

Hobby916
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December 13, 2023 6:42 am

Skipped this one tonight. 9:30pm for me is a bit late of a start time. Seeing the results, glad I didn’t see this hot mess. Hopefully the home stand will be at least 4-2 (Boston, Phoenix, Minnesota should be tough ones)

BuiltToSpill
December 13, 2023 6:47 am

It’s difficult to take this team’s playoff hopes seriously with repeated performances like this. I’m not sure there’s a player available at the deadline who can help right this ship. Either they figure this out in house or they’re facing another first round exit.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m so thrilled that the team is even this good after so many truly horrendous years. But games like last night are just unwatchable. I was hoping I could squint and see a title contender. Right now, when I squint, I just see less of them.

Klam
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December 13, 2023 8:42 am
Reply to  BuiltToSpill

Yep, I feel the same way about everything you’ve said.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
December 13, 2023 7:20 am

From amazing to embarrassing in just 24 hours.

Also, Kings show they continued to struggle against lengthy wings. That’s not going to change until the roster is addressed.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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December 13, 2023 7:24 am

comment image
Monday was so long ago…

Time to move on to the next game…

Last edited 2 months ago by UpgradedToQuestionable
Klam
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December 13, 2023 8:06 am

Never turned the game on when I checked the score sometime in the second quarter. Amazing how you can go from playing your most complete game of the season to possibly your worst. I don’t know if it’s just certain teams that give the Kings fits, but 6 of your 9 losses being complete blowouts that were over by halftime is pretty concerning long term. You can’t come out checked out on a consistent basis and expect to make it far into the postseason (and that’s if you can even make it to the postseason in the first place).

And even with the next six games being at home, you’ve got four good teams coming in OKC, Boston, Phoenix, and Minnesota…not to mention that the Phoenix and Minnesota games are back-to-back. Can’t be letting up when the Western Conference teams are so close together in the standings.

RikSmits
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December 13, 2023 8:24 am

I really don’t want to talk about this game.

So, what punishment will Draymond Green get?

RobHessing
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December 13, 2023 8:31 am
Reply to  RikSmits

5 games. Should be 25, will be five.

Kings conspiracy prediction: 20 games, as the Kings play the Dubs 21 games from now.

Daydreamer
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December 13, 2023 10:05 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I suspect that Draymond’s presence is an advantage to the Kings. Remember the end of the last game? Thank you, Draymond!

Klam
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December 13, 2023 8:39 am
Reply to  RikSmits

He certainly had quite the explanation for that roundhouse punch…

“He was pulling my hip and I was swinging away to sell the call,” Green said. “Made contact with him. As you know, I’m not one to apologize for things I meant to do. But I do apologize to Jusuf. Because I didn’t intend to hit him. I sell calls with my arms. I don’t fall to sell the call. I’m not a flopper. So I was just selling a call. I spun away. Unfortunately, I hit him.”

RikSmits
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December 13, 2023 8:42 am
Reply to  Klam

Yeah, just wanted to quote that as well. The complete lack of accountability has to be an issue at this poiint, right?

He’s constantly defending his antics.

eddie41
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December 13, 2023 9:13 am
Reply to  RikSmits

you wanna step outside and sell some calls?

RobHessing
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December 13, 2023 8:30 am

It has not happened often over the past season-plus, but watching that game last night…
comment image

RobHessing
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December 13, 2023 8:50 am

Sacramento falls to 13-9 on the season, and all 9 of their losses have come against just 4 teams – the Clippers, Warriors, Rockets, and Pelicans.

I’m trying to unpack this a little bit, and when I do, I want to acknowledge that it has a bit of a small sample size tinge to it. That said…

I’ll toss the Dubs out of this exercise, as the Kings do have a win against them and two of the three games were close.

The two losses to Houston were sans Fox, and the Rox are a surprising 10-1 at home. But the Kings did take a beating on the wings.

The Pels and the Clips both basically pummeled the Kings on the wings, and were significantly more physical overall. Maybe the return of Alex Len would help a tiny bit with the physicality, but the Kings appear to need to get meaner on the wings, and I don’t think that the answer is on the current roster. It’s easier said than done, and I still think that the answer lies more in the margins (Caruso, Thybulle, Hart, Bey, Finney-Smith, Covington) than it does at the upper level (Anunoby, Siakam, Mikal Bridges,Grant), but if the only defensive presence at the wing is Keegan Murray (and I’m not dogging Murray here, but he needs help), you’re in for some long nights against these types of teams, and potentially suffering a death blow if you get the wrong playoff matchup.

SavageBeast
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December 13, 2023 10:33 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I would tend to agree, except that if I’m remembering it right, in all of those losses our offense scored much less than they normally do. We definitely could use defensive help on the wings, But It almost feels like there are certain teams that just shut down what we do offensively and except for Fox we don’t seem to be able to adapt to it.

I feel like if we were scoring the points that we normally do, and making the baskets that we usually make, they wouldn’t be getting near as many points that we would have to worry about defending.

So I guess my question is is this a defensive problem or is it a problem of our offense being unable to adapt to the teams that are longer and reach in and are more physical with us?

Also agree that it’s a pretty small sample size so it’s hard to know for sure.

RobHessing
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December 13, 2023 10:44 am
Reply to  SavageBeast

It’s a great point, and the answer may be that they go hand-in-hand. That is, when the Kings are allowing their opponents to dictate pace and score at higher efficiency, it reduces the transition opportunities and impacts offensive flow. Conversely, when the Kings are not hitting offensively, it triggers the other team’s offense. With that said, it did feel as though the Kings had no answers for Zion / Ingram or Harden / Kawhi / PG13. I mean, you’re not going to stop those guys, but the resistance seemed non-existent for long stretches. At some point, you have to be able to dig in at least a little defensively. We see Fox do it. We see Murray do it. I think the core rotation needs a defensive menace that can at least slow down the wing play of the opposing team.

SavageBeast
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December 13, 2023 10:54 am
Reply to  RobHessing

Great points from both of you. Like you both said, it’s probably some of both. I love to see the way that Fox and Keegan are both defending. And honestly, I don’t see any of our other top six or seven players playing that kind of defense no matter how much Brown emphasizes it. So maybe we do have to go out and get a third wing defender.

But, even if we manage to add a third defender, I still don’t have much confidence in our ability to win low scoring games. Whereas I do feel like we currently have the players to figure out better offensive schemes against teams that are taking away our go to moves.

So I guess what I’m saying, is that I find it much easier to believe that we can find a different way to score points than I do that we can be even a top 10 defensive team.

RobHessing
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December 13, 2023 11:13 am
Reply to  SavageBeast

I mostly agree. I do recall that the golden age Kings gave up ppg that were kind of middle of the pack, but they were also at or near the top of the league in defensive FG%. The pace drove up the points.

That may be the biggest single difference between then and now when looking at the teams – the number of really easy baskets that this team gives up.

If you can slow these wing players from crashing the paint, you take pressure (and fouls) off Sabonis, as well as put him and the rest of the team into a better rebounding position. And that should benefit the transition game, which could abate these longer offensive cold spells.

If the Kings can just get to the league median in defensive metrics, their offense could put them over the top. But I don’t see a team that is in the bottom third of the league defensively taking that next big step towards being among the NBA’s very best, no matter how MVP-like De’Aaron Fox may be.

RikSmits
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December 13, 2023 10:46 am
Reply to  SavageBeast

I partly disagree, SB.

As Jerry pointed out in the latest podcasts, teams have been scouting us and are taking away some easy points, like in transition and with schemes to counter the DHO’s.

Teams will always have off-nights on offense, especially when you rely as much on the 3 as we do. Whemn that happens, you need something to aleviate that problem. If you have a team with good defenders and good defnive schemes, it is easier to maintain that on the same level than an offense.

And personally I think Brown has been emphasizing the 3 ball too much, at the expense of good shot selection. Sometimes I see players take very akward stepback or sidestep 3’s, instead of just taking a shot in rhythm. I could be wrong, of course.

Amonk81
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December 13, 2023 11:18 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Agree. Don’t want Sac looking like a Dantoni coached 3 and no D team.

And I hate to say it again, but Guys like Huerter ain’t cuttin it. He and other wings they have simply can’t defend and are not shooting well when needed.

i feel like there are a lot of D minded wings who would Be as/more consistent shooting then Heurter and wings they have.

Too many non defending and poorly constituted wings/players for the playoffs on this roster.

Not to mention that the Kings were the only team in playoff position with a negative point differential.

Dorde34
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December 14, 2023 8:57 am
Reply to  Amonk81

100% spot on. Throw Barnes in there too. Obviously Sabonis isn’t going anywhere either but he is terrible defensively. Huerter and Barnes have to be used to upgrade the roster.

BuiltToSpill
December 13, 2023 10:40 am

BTW, ‘member this offseason when people wanted to target Draymond in free agency? Lord am I happy they didn’t get their way.

Daydreamer
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December 13, 2023 11:47 am
Reply to  BuiltToSpill

Mea culpa!

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