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Kings Defense Collapses in 133-121 Loss to Clippers

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

by Matt George – Sports 1140 KHTK Reporter

Hours before tip-off of the nationally televised Sacramento Kings vs Los Angeles Clippers contest, reports emerged of Kings Head Coach Dave Joerger kicking Assistant General Manager Brandon Williams out of shoot-around. According to Joeger pre-game, the drama of this morning had zero effect on the gameplan and approach to the number one team in the Western Conference. While Sacramento’s offense was on point, getting double-figures scoring from six different players, the defensive effort was a nightmare. Clippers rode a 42 point 1st quarter to the 133-121 victory.

“It was a good game,” said Joeger, “(we) ran into a very good, experienced, hard playing, very physical team playing well, playing with a lot of confidence. They play at the pace they want to play at. They get to spots and get shots they want to get”.

The Kings’ struggles defensively began on the perimeter. De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Iman Shumpert all struggled to stay in front of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris, who combined for 61 points on 23 shots. Sacramento bigs Willie Cauley-Stein, Nemanja Bjelica and Marvin Bagley were forced to pre-rotate and help on defense, allowing for a lot of scoring at the rim.

“Just too many layups. A lot of them out of the half court,” said Joerger.

After giving up 42 points in the 1st quarter, the Kings found themselves in an 18 point hole early. But, thanks to the scoring and playmaking of Bogdan Bogdanovic off the bench, Sacramento was able to cut the deficit down to just three. Bogdanovic finished with a career high 26 points and six assists in 35 minutes off the bench.

“It doesn’t matter,” Bogdanovic said about his career high following the game, “I’d rather have De’Aaron have a monster game like Atlanta and we win”.

The 26-year-old Serbian played the bulk of his minutes at the point guard position, something that Joerger says we will be seeing more of. “I’m going to play him at the point guard. There are times when it will be him and Buddy. Or times with him and De’Aaron.”

The Kings have struggled to out-rebound their opponents this season, but had a good night on the class against Los Angeles, out rebounding the Clippers by 10. Marvin Bagley (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Willie Cauley-Stein (17 points, 10 rebounds) managed double-doubles in the loss.

De’Aaron Fox, despite his defensive struggles, provided 17 points and 9 assists offensively, but still finished -23 on the night.

“They got where they wanted…” Fox said, “We got to be able to get stops. It’s defense. If our defense is up, our offense gets up even more”.

The Kings will practice tomorrow and prepare for a meeting with the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Tonight’s loss to the Clippers is their 3rd straight, their longest losing streak of the young season.