SACRAMENTO -– A 103-84 win over the Cavaliers, even without an injured LeBron James, demonstrated that the Kings -- when they’re right -- can be good.
However, it also reinforced the only consistency for Sacramento (16-21) this season: Inconsistency.
[RECAP: Kings coast against Cavs]
“We’re working on that,” admitted Kings coach Tyrone Corbin after Sunday’s win. “These guys are working their tail off and tonight was a great indicator of who we can be.”
The Kings defense during the homestand best reflects Sacramento’s erratic play. They allowed 83 in a win over Oklahoma City, 118 in a loss to Denver, then 84 in Sunday’s win over Cleveland.
“The Oklahoma City game was a great indicator of how we can play and have a chance to compete against the top teams in this league,” Corbin commented. “We just have to look for more consistency. These guys are going to continue to work and we’re going to continue to push and see where we fall.”
Call for steady play didn’t just come from the coach, it permeated the postgame locker room chatter.
“We’ve just got to find a way to be consistent,” said DeMarcus Cousins, who put up 26 points on the Cavaliers. “We can’t come out one night, be good defending -- the next night, play like a totally different team. We’ve got to find that consistency.”
Sacramento turned the ball over a season-low five times and its point guard was flawless, committing zero blunders while scoring 16 points and dishing out six assists in the win.
“I know when we do play we’re pretty hard to beat,” Darren Collison said.
The stat sheet showed the balance of Sacramento’s play on both sides of the ball -- 20 assists on 42 field goals, a plus-four rebound margin in favor of the Kings, and just 55 points allowed over the final three quarters.
“When we defend the way we can, it’s going to lead to easy offense,” Cousins said. “When we defend at a high level and play defense the way we can as a team, the offense will come easy for us.”
Cleveland (19-19) is 1-8 without LeBron in the lineup and is trying to find the right chemistry among injuries and recently-acquired new pieces in J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Iman Schumpert, who hasn’t played in nearly a month due to a dislocated shoulder.
The Cavs' messy milieu doesn’t diminish the win for Sacramento, as the Kings continue to strive to find themselves after the upheaval of a coaching change.
“We were just talking about how we know we let the last game slip away,” Collison said of Friday’s 118-108 loss to Denver. “To be able to come out in the second half and not let this one slip away and play all 48 minutes together, it’s a learning process.”
While the Kings are 2-1 on the current six-game homestand, an opportunity and a challenge awaits with the Mavericks (Tuesday), the Heat (Friday) and the Clippers (Saturday) visiting Sleep Train Arena.
Like the street sign, “No Stopping -- No Standing” the Kings will either break through with more consistency or continue the haphazard play.
Kings fans are hoping for the latter.
THE GOOD: Good O and Good D. Sacramento committed a season-low five turnovers and held Cleveland to just 84 points.
THE BAD: The Kings lackluster first-quarter defense, allowing the Cavs to shoot 63 percent from the floor en route to a 29-point opening.
THE TAKE: Sacramento is in the middle of a six-game homestand at 2-1 and is showing signs of finally shaking the katzenjammer -- or hangover -- of the coaching change.
Ultimate maturity is being comfortable in your own skin yet continuing to grow and develop.
“We do offense off of our defense...” Cousins said. “There were nights where we’d come out and just try to outscore people -- that’s not us and we’ve got to continue to move on.”
Perhaps the Kings are getting there.