Needing a win to keep pace, the Kings struggled with their shot and then with their handles Monday night against the Washington Wizards. Despite their losing record, the Wizards looked like the motivated team fighting for a playoff spot.
The Kings fell behind big early, but rallied late. They took a one-point lead in the final four minutes, but the Wizards responded with a big push to come away with the 121-115 victory.
Seven Kings players scored in double-figures, but it wasn't enough.
Sacramento dropped back to the .500 mark at 33-33. Here are the positives and the negatives from the loss:
Not Ready for the Moment
The Kings have jumped ahead in the process as a squad, but the last few weeks have been a stark reminder of how difficult an 82-game schedule is for a young an inexperienced team.
No one wants to hear excuses, but there is a reason teams filled with first- and second-year players don't storm into the playoffs and make noise.
Sacramento is gaining valuable experience with every game. That doesn't make it hurt any less. With every loss, the Kings fall further away from the postseason picture.
Stumbling against Washington dropped the Kings four games back of the Jazz, Spurs and Clippers in the loss column with 16 games remaining on the schedule.
Hield and Bogdanovic
Buddy Hield has done an incredible job of scoring throughout the season, but he has fallen into a funk over the last two games. The sharpshooter went cold for much of the evening and with the game on the line, he couldn't get the buckets to fall.
He finished the night with 15 points, and shot just 6-of-21 from the floor. Hield missed all but one of his nine 3-point attempts.
With Hield struggling, Bogdan Bogdanovic is a player Sacramento needs to step forward. Unfortunately for the Kings, Bogdanovic struggled as well, scoring 13 points on 2-of-7 from the field. He was also a minus-20 in the plus/minus category.
If the Kings are going to turn the tide on the season, they need every player to step up. They can't have bad games from their core group, and certainly not more than one on a given night.
Fox Gives and Takes
De'Aaron Fox is the straw that stirs the Kings' drink. He's finishing the season strong, posting 19.4 points and 7.6 assists per game in the month of March.
He carried the Kings in the first half, scoring 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting before the intermission. Then, things got sloppy.
He's extremely cautious with the ball on most nights, but that wasn't the case in the final 24 minutes on Monday. Fox turned it over six times, including a few crucial gaffes in crunch time.
It's hard to fault a player who led the team with 23 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals in 38 minutes of action, but he needs to clean it up with the game on the line.
In a recent trend, the second-unit production from Harry Giles and Nemanja Bjelica stood out.
For the fourth time in six games, Giles scored in double-digits for Sacramento. The 20-year-old dropped in 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting in 22 minutes of action. He added six rebounds, three assists and a block.
Giles has taken advantage of the added minutes, and he is quickly showing that he might be ready to shoulder a major load next season. He plays with a fire and intensity that the Kings need in the post, and he's improving at every turn.
Like Giles, Bjelica is on a roll. The veteran continues to find ways to help the team. Against the Wizards, he managed to score 15 points and grab 12 rebounds in 36 minutes of action.
After a strong start to the season, Bjelica faded in a big way during January and February. It looks like he has picked up a second wind down the stretch, which is a welcome sight for the Kings.