The fans weren’t the only ones leaving the old barn early on Wednesday evening.
Quite honestly, they weren’t the only ones leaving embarrassed either.
By the time the press got into the Kings locker room after losing 122-93 in a blowout to the visiting Denver Nuggets, most of Sacramento’s players had left the arena also.
No Cousins, no Tyreke, not even Donte Greene hung out long enough to give their side of this ugly one-sided loss.
Keith Smart, the new coach of the 6-13 Kings, was alone at the podium to explain.
“Not what I expected,” Smart started his post-game press conference. “And I’m sure our fans didn’t expect that either. Kind of an embarrassing moment for our fans to watch us play that way.”
After pulling out to an early 7-3 lead behind a couple of Jimmer Fredette jumpers – who started in place of an banged up Marcus Thornton, the flood gates broke and the Kings end of the paint opened up like Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea.
Way too easy.
Drive after drive after drive after drive to the rack. The Nuggets kept coming like the incoming tide – relentlessly.
And the Kings didn’t even put up a temporary barrier to stop the avalanche.
By the end of the first quarter, the Nuggets already had 22 points in the paint on 11-of-17 shooting. And they weren’t done yet. They would finish with an incredible 92 points in the paint! This is the most since the NBA began keeping track of this statistic!
Wave after wave after wave of Denver big men and small reaching the rim with uncanny ease.
By halftime, Denver lead 66-43 and the boo birds could already be heard in the old Arco rafters.
Danilo Gallinari, Nene, Kosta Koufos, Andre Miller, Al Harrington and even Ty Lawson before he got hurt were slicing through the lane without facing stiff competition or even a good knock down.
By the half, the Nuggets were shooting almost 60 percent and the Kings were just over 42 percent from the floor.
It wasn’t that the Nuggets ran the Kings off the floor, that wasn’t it at all. It was just that it seemed almost every time a Nuggets player went into the paint, he either scored or another Nugget player grabbed the board and tired to score.
The only defense at the rim for the Kings came in the form of DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins ended up with 17 points and 15 boards. The only other King with more than five rebounds was Greene who had six.
The shocking stat of the night had to be that Evans, who is usually good for 4.8 boards a game came away with none. That’s right, a goose egg – zero rebounds.
Not the sign of a team that is throwing everything they have into trying to get a win.
Jason Thompson, one of the only ones left to speak after the tough loss, ended with nine points and five boards but knew much more was needed.
“It’s frustrating,” said Thompson from his space in front of his locker after the game. “We didn’t take care of business. We knew what the game plan was. From the start, usually come out to a good start but this time we just went against the odds. We weren’t rebounding and we weren’t playing unselfish basketball.”
That’s it! Straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Thompson’s been here since the beginning. He’s unselfish to a fault most of the time and is finally having the kind of season the front office thought he could have when they drafted him four years ago.
Thompson knows the solution to what ails the team and holds out hope that the players can pull it off.
“We all got to look ourselves in the mirror and say how am I going to guard my man and how am I going to stop my man from scoring. At the end of the day, the great teams play team defense. But first you have to be able to stop your man and then worry about the help.”
The former Rutgers standout felt so strong about his case, he said it again.
“We all got to look ourselves in the mirror and not just worry about everyone getting buckets but worry about getting stops and rebounds and just let everything else come to us.”
KINGS NOTES: Fredette ended up with 19 points and had five three-pointers . . . The Nuggets had seven players in double figures scoring including Gallinari (23 points), Nene (16 points), Andre Miller (15 points, 10 assists), Al Harrington (10 points) and Corey Brewer (15 points) . . . Isaiah Thomas had ended with 16 points and had six assists . . . Ty Lawson hurt his foot or ankle and was seen leaving Power Balance Pavilion in a walking boot . . . To their credit, John Salmons, J.T., Thomas and Fredette were ready to answer questions from the media after the game . . . Thornton could miss another week or so with a deep bruise in his left thigh . . . Chuck Hayes should be on the floor again when the Kings travel to Utah to face the Jazz on Saturday