Kings 92, Wizards 110: Offense disappears down the stretch

The Kings started off well but couldn’t withstand the pressure when Washington ramped it up.

Thank goodness the Kings don’t have to play the Wizards any more this season. While this game wasn’t as disastrous as the one in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago, this Wizards team is a nightmare matchup for the Kings with their combination of length and shooting ability.

Sacramento actually got off to a good start in this one, scoring as many points in the first quarter (32) as they did in the entire first half the last time they played. A big part of that was George Hill coming out very aggressive. Hill scored all 16 of his points in the first half, and knocked down all three of his three pointers. It was the most aggressive and engaged we’ve seen Hill look all season, which is why it was so flabbergasting that the Kings went away from him in the second half, as he only attempted two shots the rest of the game.

Instead, the Kings seemed set on feeding the ball through Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein, who combined to shoot 7 of 24 from the field and do little defensively to stop Marcin Gortat (18 points on 7-11 shooting) or Mike Scott (15 points on 6-8 shooting). Cauley-Stein seemed to take his self-advice of being more selfish to a fault, and hopefully it was a wakeup call that he isn’t ready to be a first, second or third option on offense.

Aside from Hill’s first half and some decent shooting from Garrett Temple (11 points on 6 shots) and Buddy Hield (12 points on 5-11), the Kings offense was a mess. Washington’s defense really clamped down starting in the second quarter, led by Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre was a pest and helped set the tone for the Wizards on both ends of the floor, creating turnovers and easy shot opportunities.

The Wizards didn’t really need much help getting easier shots however, as the Kings were glad to give those away all night. Sacramento really showed their youth with their lack of discipline on the perimeter, and the night might have looked even worse if guys like Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris (1-11 combined from three) had simply made their open looks. Washington as a team shot 51.8%, led by John Wall’s seemingly effortless 21 points on 8-9 shooting. Speaking of Wall, he seems to become the second coming of Ray Allen when playing the Kings. Over two games this season, he’s 9/10 against the Kings from beyond the arc, compared to just 5/32 against the rest of the league.

The Kings continue their Eastern conference swing on Wednesday with a trip against the Atlanta Hawks. For the opponent’s perspective, visit Bullets Forever.

Random Observations:

  • Garrett Temple is quietly becoming a sniper from distance. While he was good last year, he’s currently around 43% from three this year which would be an elite number. He probably should take more of them (as should the Kings in general but that’s a topic for another day)
  • De’Aaron Fox didn’t have a great game, but I liked his aggression towards the end even with the game seemingly over. I would like to see him settle for less jumpers though and try to get to the rim and draw contact more. His biggest strength is his speed and he needs to exploit that more regularly. Then again, defenses know that too and are giving him that jumper until he proves otherwise.
  • Papagiannis sighting! He only got a few minutes towards the end, but he’s been putting up some good numbers in Reno so far.
  • There was a period in the third quarter where the Wizards were just simply outhustling the Kings at every opportunity. While poor play can be understood given what we know of this team, poor effort should not be excused.
  • Skal hit a three! Making that shot on a consistent basis will be an inevitable step forward in his progress.
  • Justin Jackson got badly outplayed by Kelly Oubre tonight but that’s exactly the kind of guy I’d like him to learn from. Just be a pest on defense and do the little things. I’m not sure Jackson will ever be a great rebounder though.
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