The Kings were no match for the Hawks in a 130-105 loss at Philips Arena on Monday.
“Some nights, it’s just one of these teams that plays at such a clever, fast pace that we were just surprised by,” Kings coach George Karl told reporters. “Their specialness is finding the open man and they did. They made the shots early, they got the rhythm of the game, the flow of the game early.”
Sacramento gave up 20 3-pointers, a franchise record for the Hawks and Atlanta produced the most assists (42) in an NBA game this season.
“Very seldom does your defense get in a comfort zone and they shoot the three. It’s almost as if they get yelled at if they don’t shoot the three. They’re told that if you’re open for a three ball, fire. Most teams have one guy out there that you can rotate to, but this team has everybody that you have to rotate to.”
The Hawks' (50-13) scintillating play wasn’t lost on the Kings, who have now lost 13 straight to Atlanta.
“They’re great,” Rudy Gay, who led the Kings with 23 points told the media in Atlanta. “They play team basketball. They move the ball and get each other open. It’s fun to watch and tough to play against. They have great players and they play well together. Their bench plays well and they’re just a well-coached team. You’ve got to want it. They want it, obviously. They have 50 wins already.”
For Sacramento (21-41) losing four straight and seeing the bar set so high by Atlanta reinforces the need for improvement.
“It’s not easy,” Rudy Gay added. “The funny thing about it, I don’t think our defense is that bad. I think it’s effectively giving them such easy buckets off turnovers. We have to receive the ball better and be better teammates.”
Sacramento hasn’t won in Atlanta since 2006, is now 1-4 on its current eight game road trip and falls to 3-7 under Karl.
“We played them even and we never got in control, at the defensive end of the court especially. They got everything they want. They want the paint points and they want the three ball. We gave them both of them. Usually when you’re playing that team, you should be able to take away one of those two, and we didn’t take away either.”
The irony is that Atlanta plays with the cohesion, freedom and unselfishness that Karl hopes to inculcate in Sacramento.
“They play at a very quick pace,” Karl added. “They pass the ball so freely and so generously. They turn down good shots to get great shots. They have patience.”
Karl also has stressed that increasing your points per game average needs to come from defense creating offense, another one of Atlanta’s strengths.
“And no one wants to give them credit, but they’re a good defensive team. They get their hands in the game, they create offensive defense. I think you’re seeing a very special basketball team.”
The Good: Rudy Gay continued his prodigious production, leading the Kings with 23 points. DeMarcus Cousins contributed his 38th double-double of the season.
The Bad: Sacramento’s inability to defend and combat the flow of the game established by the Hawks proved devastating.
The Take: The Kings aspire to the Hawks' style of play. On Monday night, the chasm between the squads was significant by any measure.
However, Sacramento must continue to strive to improve. Right now, it’s about the journey not the destination for the Kings.