Rewind: Kings Let Early-Season Opportunity Slip Away

SACRAMENTO -- On their home floor, with an opportunity to climb back to .500 on the season, the Kings squandered a big first half lead and fell the Los Angeles Lakers by a final of 101-91 Thursday night.

Two steps forward, one step back. Maybe even one step forward, two steps back. It’s a  common theme for the Sacramento Kings over the last decade, regardless of the who is wearing the purple and black.

“Tonight was a tough night,” coach Dave Joerger opened his postgame press conference. “I thought it was a good first half.”

Joerger could have just stopped the press conference there and walked away. His team took a 10-point lead into the intermission after leading by as many as 19 and then the wheels completely fell off the Kings’ bus.  

“We let them get a lot of shots that we know they can hit and gave them confidence,” a clearly frustrated DeMarcus Cousins said after the game. “We should have buried them in the second half, but we gave them confidence  and gave them momentum in this game to finish out the way they did.”

After shooting 50 percent from the floor and completely outplaying the Lakers through 24 minutes, the Kings couldn’t get out of their own way after the break.

“We’ve just got to play for 48 minutes,” Barnes said. “We can’t take our foot off the gas. We have to have more of a killer instinct.”

While the Lakers were busy running and gunning, hitting 54.1 percent of their second half shots, the Kings offense slowed to a crawl. Sacramento hit just 29.3 percent from the floor in the final two quarters, allowing the Lakers to outscore them 56-36 on their way to the double-digit win.

“Third quarter, they came out with more intensity than us and had us on our heels the rest of the game,” Matt Barnes said.

After scoring 18 points in the first half, Cousins went scoreless in the third quarter as the Lakers aggressively manhandled him everytime he touched the ball. The two-time All-Star took exception to not only the way he was hit repeatedly, but the way the game was officiated as well.

“It’s pretty sad when opposing teams let it be known what their game plan is, which is to be physical, hit me and whatever the case may be,” Cousins said. “I’ve got to learn how to play through it, keep my frustrations in order, that’s it; play through it.”

Cousins bounced back to drop in 10 points in the fourth, but his team shot just 5-of-22 and were outscored 31-18 in the final frame as the Lakers shocked them on their home floor.

The 6-foot-11 center finished the night with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-25 from the field, but he went to the line just eight times despite the physical nature of the contest.

While it was a frustrating night for Cousins, he wasn’t the only player to stumble in a winnable game on their home court. Darren Collison shot just 2-of-11 from the field in his second game back from suspension and Arron Afflalo scored nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.

Sacramento came into the night with the hopes of climbing to 5-5 on the season before heading to Portland for a back-to-back against the Trail Blazers on Friday night. Instead, their two-game win streak is over and they’ll need to show up big at the Moda Center or fall further away from even on the season.

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