Taking a short-term perspective, a Kings' 114-109 overtime loss to a depleted Heat squad would be devastating.
However, long-term thinking provides the opportunity to focus on the process, look at the positives, try to improve the deficiencies and recognize that Sacramento is in the middle of an overhaul.
“This was a pretty good game for us,” Kings coach George Karl told reporters in Miami. “We’ll learn some things from it. I’ll learn some things from it.”
Sacramento’s first half featured 8-for-12 shooting from downtown en route to a 61-47 lead at intermission.
Leading the Kings' first half effort was a seemingly insuperable Rudy Gay, who had 18 points, while Ben McLemore, after a scoreless evening in Orlando the previous night, added 17 points.
However, the flow changed in the second half as Sacramento was stymied by Miami’s zone, and in sharp contrast to the first half, shot 1-for-11 from 3-point range and only scored 35 points.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Kings lose fire, fall to Heat in OT]
Yet Sacramento still had a chance to secure its first win in Miami since 2001.
With the score tied at 96, Sacramento (21-40) had the last possession in regulation with Gay missing a driving shot and DeMarcus Cousins missing a put-back before the regulation buzzer sounded.
“You can’t get any better shot than that,” Karl acknowledged.
In overtime, the Kings led at the 1:41 mark, 104-103 when Cousins fouled out and then Miami outscored the Kings, 11-5 throughout the remainder of the extra session to secure the win.
After Cousins’ departure, Miami (28-34) didn’t miss a shot the rest of the way as the 11 points came from two Chris Andersen free throws, a Tyler Johnson 3-pointer, and six more points from the charity stripe via Dwyane Wade.
Wade scored 10 of his game-high 28 points in the extra session.
Johnson, a rookie out of Fresno State, finished with 24 points, individually outscoring Sacramento’s reserves, and along with Michael Beasley (18) and Mario Chalmers (12) propelled Miami to a decisive 59-22 bench scoring advantage over the Kings.
Cousins secured yet another double-double, scoring 27 points and adding 17 rebounds, while Gay finished with 27 points and McLemore ended the contest with 20 points.
Turnovers reared their ugly head as the Kings committed 22 blunders, which the Heat converted into 27 points.
“If I had one thought, our sloppy offensive decisions create a lot of points for the other team,” Karl said. “Tonight we gave them the free-throw line. We gave them turnovers. We gave them too much rim. They got to the rim way too often.
“What was disappointing to me was as the game goes on your defense is supposed to get in control of your team better. Tonight our defense in the first two quarters was probably better than the last two quarters.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Sacramento facing the Heat without Goran Dragic, Luol Deng, Hassan Whiteside and of course, Josh McRoberts and Chris Bosh - all out due to injury.
However, an even keel demeanor permeated the postgame comments despite squandering a 16-point third quarter lead.
“It’s tough, but like you said, everyone here thinks we are on the right path,” DeMarcus Cousins told the media in Miami. “(We) just continue to try and learn the system, continue to try and get better at it and continue to grow with each game. I think that is happening.
We are not getting the results we want right away. Like you said, we are on the right path.”
The coach is thinking longer term.
“I think the process is just learning,” Karl told the Miami media. “I have to learn them. They have to audition for minutes and try to get more opportunity. I think if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we will start winning some games. That’s the best confidence is winning.
“They have gone through a very difficult season from the standpoint of being frustrated, confused, and frazzled by all the coaching changes and all the difficult situations where they started off well. DeMarcus (Cousins) gets a sickness no one could ever predict.
“I don’t think I’m worried about the falling or breaking apart. I think, they like where they’re at. I believe they will get better and hopefully come April we are a winning basketball team and growing in a good direction.”
The Kings first half performance was solid on both ends of the floor.
Sacramento’s inability to execute against Miami’s zone defense and the Kings turnovers led to their South Beach demise.
It’s imperative for the Kings to focus on the process and to also trust that they’re on the right path.
With 21 games remaining and with Sacramento just nine games into the Karl era, soaking up every opportunity to improve and fight through the inevitable bumps along the way, is really the only way.