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Opposite pattern, same result for The Sacramento Kings

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The Sacramento Kings reversed the disappointing tempo of their previous two games, both thorough defeats, when they played the Brooklyn Nets on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 18.

The Kings had started erratically against the Portland Trailblazers last Tuesday, Nov. 13, and the Atlanta Hawks last Friday, Nov. 16, building up double-digit deficits by the end of the first quarter. On Sunday, however, they came within 23 seconds of finishing the first quarter with a lead.

In both previous games, they played strong second quarters and were able to end the half down by only a bucket or two. On Sunday, however, it was the opponents who played a fierce second quarter and left the Kings with a double-digit halftime deficit.

In both previous games the Kings fell apart in the third quarter, so that the game was virtually out of reach by the final stanza. In Sunday’s third quarter, however, the Kings outplayed the Nets and promised an exciting finale.

The Kings indeed started strong in the fourth quarter, closed the gap to two points and then floundered, ending the game with their fifth straight loss, 99 to 90. They are now solidly in last place in the Pacific Division.

Who boo? 

For the third straight home game, the unwelcome sound of boos serenaded the Kings during some hapless stretches at Sleep Train Arena. After Friday’s loss to the Hawks, Coach Keith Smart excused the angry fan reaction and generously offered, "I would boo this team as well. Boo me as well.”

This is doubtful. He’s not the type. Neither, it turns out, are any of over a dozen fans interviewed on Sunday.

Typical were Rhonda (“I don’t boo….I think it’s not nice. There’s no need for it.”) and Kyle (“I’ll never boo my team.”).

James insisted, “No (booing the Kings]. Absolutely not.”

So, who does get their boos?

Norm from El Dorado Hills said, “I boo the referees once in awhile.” Tonette remarked, “You have to be a fan through thick or thin….I don’t usually boo the opposing team, but the refs I do boo often.”

Ethan, when asked about booing the Kings, replied “At the team? Probably, not. At the refs, maybe.”

Kathy asserted, “I don’t boo anyone,” paused, and then added “I boo the referee every once in awhile.”

Marcus reported, “No, I wasn’t booing….We’re still fans and we still love and support the team.” When asked if he booed the opponents, however, he admitted “Yes — and the officiating.”

Take heart, Kings. Those who boo you are just a vocal minority.

Leadership is as leadership does

By the end of the Hawks game, the Kings were seemingly on the verge of booing each other. The family that Coach Smart has worked so hard to create was in danger of splintering. Yet with DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans both expressing a need and desire to show leadership, and Isaiah Thomas exuding the charisma of a team leader despite his diminutive size and relative lack of experience – it was quiet John Salmons who stepped up and called a team meeting.

Salmons prefers to lead by quiet example. Nevertheless, he spoke up because someone had to, and it seems all were receptive. The team has certainly shown more cohesiveness, has repaired some of its chemistry and has displayed a much improved attitude and a better game (the loss to the Nets notwithstanding).

It’s the little things

A good example of the way little mistakes plague the Kings was in the third quarter. The Kings were awarded a free throw after the Nets were called for a defensive three-seconds violation. A team can select any player to shoot a technical, and Coach Smart’s general rule is “The best free throw shooter goes there.”

On the court were DeMarcus Cousins (free throw average of .700), John Salmons (free throw average of .750), Tyreke Evans (free throw average of .800), Jason Thompson (free throw average of .813) — and Aaron Brooks (free throw average of only .333).

Who is the least logical choice to go to the foul line? Obviously, Aaron Brooks. Who went to the foul line? Aaron Brooks — who missed the shot. It was only one point, but it’s those little things that count. Coach Smart was “very disappointed with that….I was very disappointed they allowed that to happen.”

Voice of experience

When Nets guard and forward Jerry Stackhouse was drafted, Cousins was 4 years old. Stackhouse is literally old enough to be a father to some players and is in good enough shape to school them.

Stackhouse now embraces his role as a mentor, sharing his knowledge of the game and perhaps more importantly, his knowledge of the profession. Thirty-eight years old, without a thought of retirement, he is at peace with his place on the team. Generally averaging about 15 minutes a game, he came into Sacramento shooting .500 from the field and .455 from the three-point line.

Still, he feels he is there to do more than score points. He is there to teach players how to be winners, imparting on them (what a recent Newsday article called) “swagger.” It’s a necessary trait for any team to be successful on the road, and something the Kings could currently use.

Celebrity homey

Urijah Faber, former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion and now fighting as a bantamweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, was in attendance. Just back from a promotional tour which took him as far away as Singapore, the California Kid is a solid Kings fan. He declared he wouldn’t boo them, either.


Photo Credits
: Darren Hall, today’s photographer, has a website and is on Facebook.

 

Editor’s Note:  The sixth paragraph has been edited to reflect the new name of the arena. 

 

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