Kings’ Offense Driving; Defense Stuck in Reverse


Can anyone here play defense?

After starting 3-1, the Kings have lost seven of their last nine games to fall to 5-8 on the season.  There is one big glaring problem.  The Kings have not been able to stop anybody from scoring.   In their last nine games they have given up: 122, 102, 137, 124, 144, 125, 122, 132 and 138 points.   Yikes!  That’s a record pace they can’t be proud of.

Since the calendar turned to 2021, the Kings have reverted to the bumbling, stumbling Kings their fans have continued to love, even thru all the frustrations of not making the playoffs in 14 seasons.  The lowlights from the loss to the Clippers Friday night is a glaring example of how games have been going for the Kings. They shot 57.5% in the first half, but still trailed 69-61 at the intermission.  Their defense just couldn’t stop the Clippers and it really went bad in the 3rd quarter when the Kings’ offense sputtered.

But not everybody is sad.  Unfortunately, opposing teams can’t help but salivate when they know they’re going to play the Kings.  ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry tweeted this rather dubious note:

The frustrating thing for the Kings is that their defense actually looked good in the first few games.  They were working together and getting stops which subsequently fueled the offense.  Kings TV analyst Doug Christie, a defensive standout during his playing days, often mentioned “Defense turning into offense” during Kings telecasts.

When the Kings lost to Portland Wednesday night, they were up by 20 at one time in the first half, but that lead was down to three at halftime.  They then went up by 19 in the second half, only to lose the game by six even though they scored 122 points against the Blazers.

On January 8th, the Kings jumped out to a 19-point lead over the Raptors in the first quarter, but by the end of the frame, they led by only eight.  By halftime, the Kings’ lead was down to three and even though they dropped 123 against Toronto, the Raptors had 144!  So the Kings’ offense is scoring, but the defense has just fallen apart. Who’s at fault here?

Here is the reaction of veteran player Glenn Robinson III after the embarrassing loss to the Clippers.

The Kings’ defense must improve if they are going to have any chance of making the playoffs, but as Tim Maxwell of The Kings Herald pointed out, the team’s defense is getting worse. “Whatever slight amount of defensive acumen and tenacity that was celebrated over the first few games of the season has all but disappeared.”, Maxwell wrote.  He further points out that “Opponents are shooting 49.5% from the floor, the highest mark in the league…”

The Kings’ defensive deficiencies are not for a lack of effort.  Buddy Hield is criticized for his defensive play, but he is playing hard and has made some good plays.  Marvin Bagley has shown improvement, but he still has a long way to go.

Rookie Tyrese Haliburton and Richaun Holmes have been the most consistent defensive assets.  Holmes always brings the energy to both ends of the floor, swatting six shots in a victory over the Pacers.

So to answer the question I posed to start this article: yes, the Kings can play defense.  We’ve seen glimpses of it.  They just have to be more consistent and do a better job collectively.  If they don’t, this is going to be another very long and frustrating season in Sacramento.

Follow us on Twitter @Kings_Lead for the latest Kings news and insight. 


About Dave Andrade

Sports Director, KRCR-TV Redding 1968-81; Shasta College football & basketball play-by-play; marketing rep; retired, but still doing a daily sports report & commentary for KKXS 96.1 FM, Redding; contributor at Kings Lead

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