The Los Angeles Lakers left Power Balance Pavilion with a loss six days ago. But it seems as if they also took the Kings' energy with them.
The Kings have looked flat in their last 10 quarters of basketball. It began just before halftime in Portland and has carried over in consecutive home losses to Chicago and New York.
There's no shame in losing to the Bulls. The Knicks are also a good team. But being down by almost 30 points to a Knicks team without Amar'e Stoudemire, lacking depth in the backcourt and being lit up by Josh Harrellson?
It's why Chuck Hayes was fuming when teammates were joking with the media after the game.
The last thing he wanted to hear was laughter after such a demoralizing loss by his teammates or the media, who he asked to leave the locker room if they weren't working and only hanging around for a laugh.
Asked minutes earlier what was most discouraging about the loss, Hayes pointed to a couple of areas.
"The lack of effort," Hayes said. "I don't know no. I don't know. Our shot selection is bad. There's no eight pointers in basketball, there's no 10 pointers. It's like we shoot because we haven't put up a shot after three times up and down the court."
Bad shot selection can be corrected. But there's really no reason why a young team like the Kings can't play with more energy.
And with every missed shot, the Kings seem to lose a little more fire.
The Kings struggled to make free throws in beating the Lakers but that was covered up by hot shooting. Now that the shots aren't falling the Kings don't have an answer on offense or defense.
"We need to learn to have short-term memory and move on to the next play," Hayes said. "You're going to mess up in games. You go on instincts but one mistake can't be a habit. You've got to move on because the game is a marathon. If we dwell on what happened in the first quarter we'll never be able to get ourselves back."
Evans taking heat
Ever since Kings coach Paul Westphal called out Tyreke Evans for playing sluggishly in the preseason opener, fans seem to have taken to criticizing everything the third-year guard does with vigor.
Anytime Evans keeps the ball on a fastbreak, there are groans. If Evans dribbles more than three seconds, some fans have no problem yelling for Evans to pass the ball.
The offense Westphal is putting in might be hardest for Evans to adjust to, considering he was the point guard in his first two seasons, a role he shared with Beno Udrih. Now
Evans is being asked to play off the ball more.
Evans has been consistent in stating he is struggling adjusting to the new offense. It doesn't help Evans (or anyone else with the ball) when Kings simply stand and stare at whoever has the ball.
Evans, however, seems to take more grief for this.
Westphal defended Evans when asked if his game has progressed.
"It's too early to jump on Tyreke," Westphal said. "He's trying and doing a good job of upping his intensity on defense, he's trying to do what we want him to do and it isn't going to be perfect. I wouldn't jump on Tyreke yet."