SACRAMENTO -- Learning the hard way. The Sacramento Kings are one of the few teams in the league that could lose to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday and then stumble against the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
It's a focus issue. It's a consistency issue. It's a young team issue. It's an issue.
"Tough one," Bogdan Bogdanovic said. "We felt good after (the) Cleveland win. But that's the thing you have to learn in this league, that we have to go every night hard and (with) the same mindset."
From the opening tip, the Kings looked out of sorts. They had no answer for forward T.J. Warren. They couldn't get a rebound. They were out-hustled and outshot by an equally young team.
"They made shots and we missed shots," George Hill said from his locker stall. "I thought they kind of beat on the rebounds and second chance points and things like that."
The final rebounding numbers have Phoenix leading 45-38. Sacramento's minus-seven rebound differential happened on the offensive end, where the Suns beat the Kings 16-9. Those 16 rebounds led to a 19-11 advantage in second chance points. "Rebounding and second chance points and things like that" pretty much sums up the evening.
"We got off to a slow start in the first quarter," a befuddled Dave Joerger said following the 111-101 loss. "The game plan was to be aggressive, to be physical, to get back in transition, to keep them off the glass as much as possible."
The game plan went out the window early. Phoenix jumped out to a 35-25 lead after the first quarter and held a 16-8 rebounding advantage. Sacramento clawed back in the game late, even taking a four point lead in the fourth quarter, but a series of errors did them in.
Phoenix finished the game on an 18-4 run over the final six minutes of the game. After a blissful win over the Cavs, the Kings were left once again scratching their heads.
It's a process. The Kings are competing every night. They have even learned how to finish in certain situations. But bringing a consistent energy and effort is still an issue.
"I don't know if you can teach," Garrett Temple said of team's young players. "I think they just have to learn through trial and error - the losses teach them. You have to learn something from the losses and I think the losses will teach them that you have to be ready for each game."
The search for consistency continues New Year's Eve when Sacramento plays the third contest of their six-game homestand. The Kings draw another sub-.500 club on Sunday when the Memphis Grizzlies roll into Golden 1 Center. Which Sacramento Kings team will show up?