I'm about to tell you why a 29-point loss was a good thing for a team that is 6-13. You may want to duck, I'm reaching so hard. The Kings lost 122-93 to the Nuggets Wednesday night. Amazingly, this was not the grossest figure for the Kings. They allowed 92 points in the paint. NINE.TEE.TWO. If you remove every single point the Denver Nuggets, primarily a perimeter, outside-in team scored Wednesday night, and kept all the points the Kings scored, Sacramento would have won by a single point.
That's a nightmare. That's disgusting. That's horrific. That's ugly. That's disgraceful. That's depressing. That's unbelievable. That's so bad it's impressive.
Have I mentioned that the Nuggets were without their starting center, Timofey Mozgov, who was attending the birth of his first child, and that two athletic wings in Arron Afflalo and Rudy Fernandez were out?
So how can this be a good thing? What possible good could have come from this? NBA.com relates that the Kings did not rest starters. They did not send out the scrubs. They made the team that was responsible for it live through it.
The final, insignificant moments of a blowout that had been decided before halftime were not so insignificant after all: coach Keith Smart played two Kings starters, Jason Thompson and Jimmer Fredette, all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter of the fourth game in six nights, and two others from the opening lineup, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, eight and seven minutes, respectively. They made “the mess,” as Smart called it, so they could stay around to clean it up.via They Can’t Escape This « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog.
“I want them to understand,” Smart said. “You can’t escape this…. You can’t go hide on the bench."
The Kings are playing better under Smart. You can't tell after games like Wednesday night. But there is more competitiveness, more cohesion. The Kings were missing their arguably second-best player, after all. But they are wildly inconsistent, as bad, young teams are. Smart making it clear that they are held to their actions is considerably huge. He can give them a pat on the butt and punish them through that debacle at the same time. Smart's not absolved here. And Smart took responsibility for it.
"We have to be able to deal with it."
Smart's not angry in the presser, he's not calling players out, he's taking responsibility and apologizing to the fans. He's not overreacting to a a terrible, awful, no-good performance. He know there are going to be nights like this. Teams need games like this to motivate them, to force the to learn. And not hiding from it, by saying "You're going to lose, but you're going to learn" from it is making a bad situation into something positive.
The Kings are terrible, and may not improve any time soon. But it's fascinating to watch a coach working through it well, even at the lowest points.