The Sacramento Kings are now 0-2 in the restart games and following their blowout loss to the Orlando Magic, the Kings are in a familiar place.
This isn't the first time the Kings have had time to work on their game, only to come out like they don't know how to play. The beginning of this season saw the Kings start 0-5 and Luke Walton's hiring was immediately under question.
With all of the changes that 2020 has brought, the Kings have remained the same. As other teams in the Orlando bubble light it up and showcase their bright future, Sacramento is proving all the doubters...right.
Despite a career-high 39 points from De'Aaron Fox against the San Antonio Spurs, the Kings didn't have enough to overcome their shorthanded opponents.
The loss didn't look as bad considering the New Orleans Pelicans are also 0-2 and the Portland Trail Blazers lost their last game. A win against Orlando would boost the Kings chances to take the ninth seed.
So what did the Kings do in a must-win game? They got smoked.
For this Watching the Tape, we'll dive into where the Kings went wrong against the Magic.
Things went south for the Kings immediately. Sacramento won the tip-off, but Fox quickly went for a pass to a covered Richaun Holmes in the paint. Naturally, the congested passing lane gave Orlando possession.
The Kings would quickly trail 7-0 and missed plenty of easy bunnies early.
Bogdan Bogdanovic did a good job to penetrate into the paint and create space for a look. However, the shot clanks off the front of the rim. There's not always a detailed explanation for a miss like this. Either it goes in or it doesn't. For Bogi, the bunnies didn't fit the hole.
The Kings find themselves down by nine here. Moments after, the Kings trailed by much more.
This play has solid ball movement from everyone involved. Harrison Barnes makes the kickout pass to Buddy Hield who leads Bogi well on his pass. Bogi's clever fake is enough for an open look at the rim. There's no way Khem Birch will be able to block the attempt.
Again, Bogi simply misses another bunny. If you're missing out on easy points like this and you can't make up for it with good defense, it'll be evident on the scoreboard. The game went from 26-17 to 44-26 in just three minutes. Obviously the Kings never recovered from the deficit.
Hield is struggling to find the form he had before the hiatus occurred. For an elite shooter like him, the best way for him to escape a slump is to shoot out of it. His defense and ball-handling isn't strong enough to make an impact on non-shooting aspects.
Despite a good preseason outing, Hield isn't playing well when the games actually matter, and the timing of it all is simply unfortunate.
Confidence may be an issue for Hield, but he gets a wide open look at the two second mark of this clip. Hield absolutely needs to take that shot - it's an uncontested straight-on look. Those looks are exactly the ones I want Hield to take when he can't hit anything else.
Instead, Hield decides to take a dribble drive and hesitates yet again. He could look to kick it out to Barnes or Bogi for a three, but fakes the pass and takes a shot all while simultaneously in the air. The shot rims out.
This was easily the most head-scratching finish from Hield. It's good one-two passing between Hield and Holmes which leads to Hield taking the ball to the basket.
Markelle Fultz isn't going to contest this well and though Hield's footwork is great, he misses an easy one too. So many missed points could've been recovered if the Kings made the simple plays.
Sacramento also couldn't keep up with the Magic from deep. We'll get into Sacramento's defense soon but the Kings had good looks themselves too. The biggest difference was obviously making them.
Sacramento would end the game going 8-28 from beyond the arc, a 28.6% clip. Sometimes you can survive and win a game with putrid shooting numbers from deep, but the Kings didn't do themselves any favors defensively.
In this play, Vucevic should've covered Nemanja Bjelica and let James Ennis take over on Holmes. Instead, Bjelica gets an uncontested attempt but bricks it. You have to take advantage of opportunities like that.
Barnes went 0-3 from deep today too and two of those attempts were wide open. At least making one would have sufficed, but that wasn't the case.
This is a good play from the inbounds pass that allows Barnes to leak out when Bogi and Giles run a quick double drag to free up space. You can't ask for a better look from this given the situation.
Barnes' shot falls way short and again, the Kings failed to capitalize on an opportunity that fell right into their lap.
The problem with the Kings all night was letting the Magic get away with tons of open threes. You could say that for many games this season. Keep in mind that Orlando shot just 34% from deep during the regular season, one of the lowest rates in the league.
Naturally, Orlando absolutely torched the Kings when looks presented themselves. Orlando would finish the game hitting on 18-38 three pointers, good for 47.4%. That rate did sit above 50% before fourth quarter attempts brought the percentage down.
Orlando has Vucevic isolated out on one side of the court. The problem is that while the Magic has four players on the other side, the Kings only have three. Fox fell asleep and let D.J. Augustin sneak under the baseline to the left corner. Bogi can't escape the screen in time to contest and it's an open look that didn't fall.
Unless Fox is going to provide help defense in case Vucevic attacks the basket, someone should've seen Augustin coming and communicate that to Fox so he can recover.
Not only that, but the Kings allow Ennis to grab the rebound. Ennis had a one-in-four chance to grab the board but nobody boxed him out and they gave Orlando a second chance opportunity.
This is another headscratching play by the Kings. Aaron Gordon made a rare mistake in this game as he lost his dribble, giving the Kings a chance to score on a three-vs-one against Vucevic.
Gordon takes his time to hustle back, ideally trusting his big man will protect the rim. Bogi makes the right read to wrap the ball around to Fox, but Fox tries to slip the ball between Gordon and Vucevic. Fox needed to slip the pass under Vucevic's right hand to get it to Bogi for an open three.
The Kings had a three-vs-one chance and didn't even get a shot off. Following the bad pass, the ball is loose and guess who makes the effort play? No not the team down by 26, but the team with the advantage. First one to the floor gets the 50/50 ball and the Kings didn't show the heart to dive for it there.
There are plenty of possessions on both offense and defense that failed for the Kings against Orlando. The team didn't show enough heart and nobody but Harry Giles and DaQuan Jeffries stood out. And speaking of Giles, the Kings declined his option so even that positive is quickly negated (from a Sacramento perspective).
Jeffries, who had played his way into Walton's rotation, didn't enter the game until the fourth quarter. Jeffries would score 12 points on 5-5 shooting (2-2 3P) in 12 minutes and added two rebounds, one assist and one steal.
I don't understand why he wasn't in the game sooner, specifically because Corey Brewer got minutes ahead of Jeffries. Brewer has the veteran experience for these situations, but he didn't make an appearance against the Spurs or Los Angeles Clippers.
Sacramento has a ton to fix in time for their matchup against the Dallas Mavericks and though it would be very Kangz of the Kings to win, Orlando has put a spotlight on the deep troubles of this team. This isn't the same squad that went 7-3 before the hiatus in March.
Orlando was supposed to be the opportunity for Sacramento to put themselves on the map and make a run for the coveted eighth seed. Instead, it's turning out to be the same old, same old Kings of the last 13 years and counting.