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Common logic would be to save your best for last, not the other way around.
There have been several games this season in which the Sacramento Kings saved their worst defensive performances for the fourth quarter, the most important frame of the game.
For example: Monday's loss to the New Orleans Pelicans saw the Kings unable to get a stop in the fourth quarter. They allowed the Pellies to score 36 points and former King Tyreke Evans to frolic in the paint on his way to 25 points and 12 assists, despite only making two shots from long range all year.
Head coach Mike Malone looked disgusted and fed up with his team after the game.
“We are a bad basketball team, that’s the bottom line," he said. "We're a bad basketball team right now."
He's right. Bad teams give up nearly 40 points in the final quarter and find ways to lose. What's bad is the fact that this wasn't the most the Kings have given up in the fourth quarter this season.
They allowed 39 points to the Atlanta Hawks Dec. 18 and 44 to the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 20, though the latter ended with a Kings victory. Sacramento has also given up 31 points in the fourth twice this year, once to the Suns on Dec. 13 and the other to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 1.
The fourth quarter is when close games are won and lost. It's when a team must play its best basketball.
Unfortunately for the Kings, they tend not to do that. If they're to improve this year, they have to play better in the final quarter more often and not allow so many points.