For the Washington Wizards, a lopsided loss to the lowly Sacramento Kings is no way to be playing if they hope to make a statement in the playoffs.
Rudy Gay scored 26 points and the Kings led most of the way in beating the listless Wizards 109-86 on Sunday for their second straight win. It was the second-largest margin of victory this season for the Kings.
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After winning five straight games and starting the road trip with a hard-fought, four-point win over Utah, the Wizards have been lacking intensity at the defensive end, a characteristic that has been far too frequent in losses this season.
”It’s a lack of focus and we can’t continue to play that way, no matter who we are playing,” said frustrated Washington coach Randy Whitman.
The focus issue tends to surface on the road, where Washington has dropped 11 of 13 games since beating the Lakers on Jan. 27. The Wizards have lost two of three on a four-game trip that ends Monday against Golden State.
Sacramento shot 50.6 percent, made 8 of 17 3-pointers, and had 26 fast-break points, three shy of its season high.
”I wish I could tell you,” John Wall said when asked about the problems on the road.
”We played defense in Utah, but we didn’t against the Clippers and tonight as well. We better tomorrow (against Golden State) or we’re going to get blown out.”
The fifth-place Wizards missed an opportunity to gain ground on idle fourth-place Chicago. With 12 games remaining, Washington trails the Bulls by 1-1/2 games and third-place Toronto by two games.
Bradley Beal scored 19 points for the Wizards, but Wall shot only 3 of 10 and had nine points and eight assists. The Wizards shot 40 percent and missed 14 of 17 3-point attempts.
DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists despite foul trouble that limited him to just under 23 minutes. He had missed the previous two games with a strained right calf.
Ben McLemore scored all of his 17 points in the second half. Omri Casspi added 14 and Ray McCallum had 13.
It was another big game for Gay, who has been difficult to stop over the past three weeks. In the previous 10 games, Gay averaged 25.4 points and shot 49.2 percent. He scored 33 points in Friday’s win over Charlotte.
”The shots out there look differently because there is more spacing on the floor and more spacing to drive, not just for me, but for my teammates as well,” said Gay, who started again at power forward. ”But at the 4 (power forward) I can be more creative and do more things.
This is what basketball is going to, the athletic 4. I think I still have some athletic juice left in my body so I might as well use it.”
Sacramento stretched its lead to 20 points in the third quarter and was never threatened from there in winning back-to-back games for the first time since late November.
The Kings shot 67 percent in the first quarter and led 34-29. Cousins scored 10 points and Casspi made a pair of 3s and had eight.
”We need to come out with more defensive focus or we don’t have a chance. That’s pretty much it,” Whitman said. ”We’ve got to start playing the right way.”
Scoreless in the first half, McLemore had two dunks to begin the third quarter and finished with 11 points, helping the Kings outscore Washington 33-20 and assume a 90-70 lead going into the fourth.
Wizards: Washington signed reserve guard Toure Murry to a second 10-day contract before the game. … Ramon Sessions began the season with the Kings, but was traded to the Wizards in February for Andre Miller.
Kings: Cousins had three first-half fouls and played only 10 minutes. … The starting lineup was the 17th different one this season. … Sacramento hadn’t held teams under 100 points in consecutive games since Dec. 8-9.