Figuring what to expect from the Kings game-to-game is not easy (the understatement of the day, I know).
How the Kings continue to play with a lack of urgency is befuddling. They did so again this afternoon in losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-86, at Sleep Train Arena.
Perhaps it's a case of old habits dying slow. Or maybe this is just who the Kings are - a team with unpredictable levels of effort and focus - and that won't change unless players change.
There was talk of changing the culture postgame, and how much work that takes.
The work will begin to take hold when the Kings realize they have to hold themselves accountable and not accept subpar effort from themselves and teammates.
"As a group, as a unit, as a team, we've just got to get tired of losing," said forward John Salmons. "If you're tired of losing when we're down in the third quarter like that you wouldn't come out with the lack of energy like we did. I think guys are used to it and it shows on the court. When you have that mentality it's hard to break those habits."
A lot of these players have been around in past seasons when players have admitted to being overconfident for games when most night the Kings had a losing record entering those games.
*Kings coach Michael Malone now sounds a lot like Keith Smart last season, talking about searching for the right mix of players that would gel on the court.
Malone benched his starting lineup less than five minutes into the third quarter and only Luc Mbah a Moute returned in the second half at any point.
Starting point guard Greivis Vasquez understood why Malone did that.
"As a player you've got to take messages the right way and understand if he gives you another chance you have to go in and play harder," Vasquez said. "...I'm not mad at him, I support him 100 percent."
*Malone said benching Salmons for Mbah a Moute was about Salmons struggling on offense and wanting to give Mbah a Moute a chance to start after a solid effort against Detroit.
Mbah a Moute had four points, three rebound sand two assists. Salmons had 10 points and five assists off the bench.
*Hamady Ndiaye getting a chance to play was a bright spot in that he highlights all that was wrong with the Kings.
Ndiaye plays through mistakes and there's never questioning his effort.
"I'm going to keep on working," Ndiaye said after career highs in minutes played (25) and rebounds (six). "I don't plan on anything, I don't expect anything. Whatever comes my way I'll be ready for it."
*The lightest power forward the Kings had available (Travis Outlaw) appeared to put up the biggest fight against Zach Randolph, who scored at will in the first half.
Outlaw also added 18 points.
*Marcus Thornton had 12 points off the bench for the Kings. Five bench players scored in double figures while none of the starters did.
*DeMarcus Cousins scored just nine points with five rebounds. It's his second time scoring fewer than 10 points.