The Kings got the win in Tuesday night's exhibition game against Toronto and the whiteboard in the team’s locker room summed it up: “Good Offense. Bad Defense.”
A Kings resurgence is heavily dependent upon defense. Look no further than Charlotte’s turnaround last season as a model: From 29th in the NBA in points allowed to fourth at 97 per night and ultimately plus-22 in the win column.
While it’s early, Tuesday's effort defensively, (allowing 30 points in the fourth quarter) doesn’t portend a reversal of Sacramento’s fortunes and it’s not lost on the coaching staff or the players.
"Our defense took a hit," a concerned Michael Malone said. "We couldn’t get a stop tonight to save our lives. That’s another game against Toronto where we gave up 30 or more points in the fourth quarter.
"It’s unacceptable for them to shoot 49 percent. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry didn’t feel us the whole night. Good offense, bad defense.”
DeMarcus Cousins agrees: “Defense not so good. I mean they had thirty fourth-quarter points, we can’t allow that... Defensively we gotta pick it up.”
Led by 19 points from DeMarcus Cousins, six Kings scored in double figures: Omri Casspi (15), Nik Stauskas (13), Ben McLemore (12), Jason Thompson (11) and Darren Collison (10). Cousins (6-for-7) was particularly efficient and helped the Kings dominate inside, where they were plus-20 in points in the paint and plus-10 in rebounding.
Sacramento’s goal for points allowed in the fourth quarter is 20 and in two consecutive exhibition games against Toronto, Sacramento has allowed 31 and 30 respectively.
For a team that was 20th in the NBA last season giving up 103 per night, these numbers are alarming.
The NBA will continue to exploit Sacramento’s defensive woes in similar fashion to Lowry, who scored 25 points. DeRozan chipped in with 23.
Trading baskets is not the recipe for improving on back-to-back 28 win seasons in Sacramento.