SACRAMENTO -- For a final preseason game, Tuesday’s 92-89 Sacramento Kings loss to the Los Angeles Clippers had plenty of drama. Two teams that hate each other? Check. The return of a Ty Lawson after a bumpy weekend? Check. A trade rumor? CHECK.
The Kings have a week to prepare for their season opener on the road in Phoenix, and they have some major ground to cover. It’s a work in progress that will take something the Kings seldom have, patience.
“Patience would be very important,” Cousins said with a smile. “Especially for me. But it’s going to be a process. It’s a new system. A new group of guys. I mean, it’s tough for me. I can be honest, it’s tough for me. It’s going to be a process.”
There was a noticeable disconnect with the team in their sixth and final preseason game. The flow of the game was off. The defensive effort came and went throughout the game. Players took shots when they easily could have hit an open teammate for an easier shot. It wasn’t pretty and that is to be expected from a team that is still trying to fit eight new faces into the rotation.
“I think we took a step back tonight, but I think we’re on the right path, that’s the positive thing about it,” Cousins added. “We’re going to be as good as we decide to be.”
The Kings were playing a well oiled Clippers team that boasts a core of players that have played together for years. Sacramento had moments, but overall, they looked every bit the part of team still learning each other’s tendencies.
“We weren’t sharp, me personally, just everything,” Omri Casspi said. “A step slow and behind and thinking about what we need to do instead of just playing the game.”
After taking a 30-26 lead coming out of the first quarter, the Kings’ second unit started off the second quarter slowly and got outscored 30-13 heading into the half. Los Angeles took a 14-point lead into the fourth and pushed the lead to 19 early in the final frame before the Kings made a late push.
“Every game is like a microcosm of the season, where you can just go away if you want and make it easy,” Dave Joerger said after the game. “Or we can be known as that team that’s hard to play against every night and that takes a lot of mental fortitude to do that possession after possession - to guard to run back on every possession. And that’s what we’re working on.”
Sacramento rattled off a 13-0 run to cut the Clippers lead to three with seven seconds remaining, but a pair of Jamal Crawford free throws put the game out of reach.
The Kings finished the preseason at 3-3 and now have a week off before they face the Phoenix Suns in the season opener next Wednesday.
Joerger spoke in pregame about point guard Ty Lawson and further explained the veteran point guard’s situation over the weekend. During post game, Lawson fielded questions as well, although he didn’t divulge anything new.
“It wasn’t a let down,” Lawson said. “We had a conversation and everything is good. It’s a personal issue. Coaches know. GM know. So we’re all good.”
Lawson said he hadn’t heard anything about a possible fine stemming from him missing the team plane to Kentucky on Friday.
The 28-year-old point guard came off the bench to score five points, hand out four assists and grab three steals in 24 minutes, but he shot just 1-of-6 from the floor.
“We’re ready to go,” Lawson said following the game. “Today’s a little rough, we missed a lot of shots, but I though on the defensive end we still played well. (We) stuck to our strategy. Hopefully we’ll knock down shots.”
Lawson is expected to make the opening night roster and is likely to start the first eight games of the season for Darren Collison, who is out of action due to suspension. The Kings are hopeful that he’s moved past the drama of last week and is ready to contribute once the regular season on Wednesday.