Courtesy of Rocky Widner/Getty Images
SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Kings are having an okay season. They're above .500 and are in playoff contention. But they're mediocre because they've lost to some bad teams, none worse than the Detroit Pistons, who were 6-43 before Wednesday's matchup.
Nothing is a sure thing, and this is why betting on sports is risky. According to Odds Shark, the Kings were favored to win by a score of 123-116, but that's "on paper." In reality, the Pistons got a career-high 37 points from guard Jaden Ivey as Detroit upset Sacramento, 133-120. Detroit can savor every win since they've only had seven of them in 50 games this season.
Ivey, for one, was encouraged because they've also beaten the Thunder, the second-best team in the West. "We believe in our gifts; we've just got to keep utilizing them, using momentum from games like this," Ivey said. "I thought we were great tonight, and we've got to keep building off that." Sacramento should be embarrassed because they became the only other team with a winning record to lose to the lowly Pistons.
Kings coach Mike Brown gave a lengthy opening statement in his postgame presser. "There aren't many times during the season when I can say I was disappointed in our performance, and tonight is definitely one of them, if not at the top of the list," Brown said. "The way we played the game, especially defensively, was not good." Inside the numbers, the most glaring stat was the Kings' complete disregard for defending the 3-point line. The Pistons were 17-of-31 (55 percent) from distance.
Sacramento never had a double-digit lead in this game. Their best advantage was when they led 42-33 with 10:49 remaining in the second quarter following a 3-pointer by Trey Lyles. The Pistons got up by 15 points, 87-72, with 7:13 to go in the third.
The Kings fought back, and on a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk by Malik Monk from Davion Mitchell, the Kings fans were ringing their cowbells with delight. But the bell-ringing and cheers soon turned to boos, with fans heading to the exits because they never led again, and the Pistons kicked it into overdrive, winning by a 13-point margin.
"Coach talked about it, and we really didn't have any effort there," said Kings center Domantas Sabonis, who had team highs of 30 points and 12 rebounds. "And that's what made that lead, and then we just couldn't get back. We've got to respect each opponent no matter who's on the court and fight for your team. We've got to play to a certain standard."
And the face of the franchise, De'Aaron Fox, had a forgettable performance shooting 5-of-14 from the field, 2-of-5 from three, and going 0-of-4 from the line, scoring 12 points. "We gave up 133 points; they shot 55 percent from distance. We have to be better on that end of the court," Fox said.
When asked why the team is allowing the opposition to shoot better than 40 percent from distance, Fox answered, "I guess we need to close out better, the guys we've labeled as hot. When you know these guys are shooters, you just have to get them off the line. We're not giving up a lot of threes, but they're a high percentage of threes."
Seven of the Kings' 21 losses are to teams under .500. They're 14-9 at home and 15-12 away from the Golden 1 Center, aka G1C. Last season, when the Kings nearly upset the Warriors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, they were seen as an upstart team with a bright future.
Right now, it's logical to say they need to play with much better effort and pride if they want to get back to the playoffs because they're currently seventh, and that means they'd have to win the play-in tournament to make it to postseason play.
The All-Star Game is approaching, and they've got four games until the break. Two of the four games are against the defending NBA Champion Denver Nuggets, and the other games are against the Thunder and Phoenix. Those teams are the top five in the West, and the only home game is this Friday against Denver. If the Kings are serious about playing in May, they should hope to go no worse than 2-2.
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