Kings rally falls short, lose to Hawks 106-99

The Sacramento Kings were unable to continue their modest two-game win streak as the Kings fell 106-99 to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

The Kings returned to old habits with turnovers once again, finishing the game with 16 turnovers and only 19 assists. Despite a big game from DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings were unable to overcome the turnovers as the Hawks took advantage to leave Sacramento with the road win. Cousins finished with yet another double-double, this time with 28 points and 12 rebounds, even with fouling out of the game.

“I just thought we had too many mistakes we made,” Kings coach Keith Smart said following the game. “Based on how we had played the last couple of games with everything we had done, sharing the ball, moving the ball, we just didn’t play that way. We didn’t have the energy necessary from the first quarter.”

The Kings, the league’s youngest team, defeated the world champion Dallas Mavericks on Friday but failed to come out with the same energy on Sunday evening.

“That’s what immature teams do,” Kings rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas said. “We are inconsistent. We only get up for the great games against big teams, but we need to get better and learn how to get up for every team. Once we do that and play at a consistent level, we will be a tough team to beat.”

Even with six of those turnovers in the first quarter, three in the first three minutes, the Kings were able to feed Cousins early. On one occasion, Cousins stole the ball and dribbled up the sideline through Hawks guard Jeff Teague’s legs en route to going coast to coast
and laying the ball in the hoop. In all, Cousins abused his defenders all quarter en route to leading all scorers after one with eight points to go along with four rebounds.

Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette has seen an increase in playing time as of late and has taken advantage of it. Sunday’s game was no exception, with starting rookie Thomas drawing two quick fouls and having to take a seat on the bench late in the first quarter.

Fredette came in aggressive and looking to score. With the clock running down, Fredette stepped up into his shot and pulled up over the defender to make a three-point shot for his first field goal of the game, giving the Kings a 24-23 lead after one quarter.

Sacramento was shooting the ball well through the first two quarters, shooting 53 percent from the field but being out rebounded by the Hawks 16-24, leading to a 52-51 lead at halftime for the Kings.

After zero turnovers in the second quarter, the plague once again hit the Kings during crucial minutes in the third quarter. While committing four more turnovers, the Kings’ shooting also dropped dramatically as the Kings were outscored 22-29 in the third, giving the Hawks a six-point lead heading into the final quarter.

With the Kings offense struggling, Smart turned to his bench in hopes of getting a spark. Sacramento was able to finally break through and score seven straight points to get to a five-point deficit at 89-94 with about three minutes remaining after Kings guard
Marcus Thornton made an angle three.

But with a chance to draw it to just three points with a little under two minutes remaining, Thornton’s driving layup was blocked by Hawks forward Josh Smith. After the Kings got the stop they needed, Thornton then missed a last-chance three that all but sealed the win for the Hawks. 

“We started to come back a little bit,” Fredette said in the locker room. “I think we just didn’t make an opportune play to get it down to three or two. We just have be more efficient and try to execute.”

Atlanta’s Smith proved to be a mismatch for the Kings all night, finishing with 28 points on 13-23 shooting, six rebounds as well as three blocked shots. Nineteen of Smith’s points came in the second half.

“He’s a willing passer now, too,” Smart said of Smith. “So offensively, he’s a tough cover. He’s too big for a small forward, and he’s too quick sometimes for a power forward.”

Kings Tyreke Evans struggled from the field, shooting only 4-of-14 for eight points while Thornton also struggled giving the Kings 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Thomas finished with eight points on 2-of-7 shooting, no assists and three rebounds to go along with Fredette’s 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and four assists.

Following such a convincing win against the defending-champion Mavericks, the Kings were disappointed with their play against the Hawks and recognized the necessity to bring their A-game every night.

“We are still a growing team, and we have a lot of work to do,” Cousins said. “We are still trying to find ourselves. We play well, and then we revert back to bad play. We need to try and make it consistent.”

Sacramento continues their nine-game home stand when they take on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday at 7 p.m. 


Photos courtesy of Nick Hunte. Nick is also a freelance videographer. To check out more of his videos, visit his YouTube channel.

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