Programming note: Kings-Blazers coverage starts Monday night at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (territory restrictions apply) and streaming on Live Extra
SACRAMENTO -– The injury depleted Kings lost to the Clippers 117-108 and while Sacramento’s play wasn’t flawless, it’s difficult to criticize the effort.
“Well, yeah, for us to be undermanned like we were-- I thought our guys showed a lot of character, focus, and determination,” said Kings coach Tyrone Corbin. “They came out . . . and really fought hard to have a chance to win the ball game.”
The Kings and Clippers were playing in the second game of back-to-back's and both were coming off of losses. Sacramento was also deal with a growing injury list that included DeMarcus Cousins, who was out after sustaining a right ankle sprain in Friday’s loss to Miami.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Without Cousins, Kings fall at home to Clippers]
Yet the Kings battled and trailed by five points with 3:26 to go in the game but Blake Griffin went for 30 points and Sacramento-product Matt Barnes added 26 points for the Clippers, who would not be denied.
With a roster decimated by injuries, Jason Thompson stepped up contributing a season-high 23 points and a career-high 23-rebounds
“He (Thompson) had a huge game,” said Corbin. “He came out with great numbers and I thought that he did some great things for us on defense and on offense. . . shot with a lot of confidence and really found his rhythm. . . It was a great overall game for him.”
“I can’t be anymore happy about our effort,” said Darren Collison who scored 17 points against his former team. “We had a lot of guys that couldn’t play this game due to injuries but we had a lot of guys that stepped up. If we play with that same effort, we’re going to be alright.”
“That’s Kings basketball right there – where you leave it out there on the floor, the guys who are out there playing just play hard.”
Examples of the Kings effort abounded, including Rudy Gay who was listed as questionable with a left knee capsule sprain, yet scored 22 points off the bench.
“I was in Connecticut this morning – I was at a funeral,” said Gay. “So I flew in right before tip-off. I always planned to play I just didn’t know what time I was going to get in. But I’m extremely exhausted right now and ready to go home and go to sleep.”
The UConn product also seems to be on the right path with the injury.
“My knee is fine – I got an MRI that said it was clean,” Gay added. “This is January so everybody has pain. Everybody is playing through something and I’m no different than anybody else.”
Sacramento scrambled and employed its ninth different starting lineup of the season including its third different lineup in its last three games.
“It’s extremely difficult – it seems like we’ve been dealing with something like that all season long, but it’s the NBA and you can’t make excuses,” commented Collison. “It’s something that we’ve been dealing with and it has affected us. But like I said, if we just come out playing hard, we can be just happy with that.”
“Regardless of what the score is, just come out and just play hard. There are some games where we didn’t necessarily play hard and that was bothering so I was glad that we came out with this effort.”
Despite the loss, the Kings can take pride in the energy and effort, but to have the results in wins, it must be sustained.
“The NBA season is a long season,” said Corbin. “You go through up-and-down motions, and this team has already been through a lot this year. They come out and fight.
“One of the toughest things for any coach to do is to have to coach guys to play hard. . . We haven’t been playing our best as of last night, but I thought that we came back tonight and showed a lot of energy.
“I just want to make sure that we do this more,” Corbin said.
Jason Thompson was terrific going for a season-high 23 points and securing a career-high 22 rebounds.
Sacramento will rarely win allowing 117 points on its home floor, on the road or at the local schoolyard.
The Kings demonstrated tremendous heart against the Clippers, yet the dependence on Cousins cannot be denied.
Without Cousins in the lineup this season, the Kings are now 2-10 and if one of the “big three” of Cousins, Gay and Collison are missing, Sacramento’s record is 3-13.
Conversely with the “big three” in the lineup, the Kings are 13-11.
With similar effort and focus on execution along with a full complement of players including its best player - Cousins is listed as day to day - Sacramento will be in a lot of games and also get more wins.