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News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

March 12, 2012
Kings lose, frustrate Smart, Cousins

The Kings' 106-99 loss to the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Sunday was one of the most disappointing performances of the Keith Smart era. While the Hawks have talent, they also are without the injured Al Horford, traveled cross-country after playing at home Friday, and should have been greeted by a Kings team energized by their victory over the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks and the fact they are three games into a nine-game homestand.

To Smart's credit, he says what he thinks - and he thinks his team failed to give an adequate effort and was unusually brief during his post-game interview session. This was a winnable game. But we'll keep it short because, well, this is one of those outings that belongs in the "forgettable" bin.

• DeMarcus Cousins, who led the Kings with 28 points, 12 boards and three steals, seemed frustrated throughout the game. One sequence late in the fourth quarter epitomized his evening: On an obvious (and crucial) pick-and-roll situation, Marcus Thornton drew the double-team on the right side, and when Cousins rolled to the basket, he forced a contested shot instead of passing the ball to the open teammate (Cousins). In the locker room afterward, Cousins sat for the longest time staring at his cellphone, composing himself before meeting members of the media approached. It's hard to believe this is the same player Paul Westphal aggressively urged management to trade early in the season ...

• The Kings' perimeter defense was non-existent - the Hawks shot 51.2 percent overall, benefitting from an inordinate number of uncontested shots from the wings or corners - and the ball movement was almost as bad. The starting backcourt of Thornton and Isaiah Thomas (three turnovers) contributed zero - and is in zero - assists.

• Francisco Garcia continues to enjoy a rebirth. He played 26 minutes, and along with Jimmer Fredette, helped space the floor with his outside shooting.

• The Kings were crushed on the boards. Besides Cousins (12), Tyreke Evans grabbed five rebounds.

• The Warriors are here Tuesday. They were impressive in L.A. against the Clippers Sunday night, coming back from a 21-point deficit despite Stephen Curry's chronic foot problems.

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