Sports

Same old problems plague Sacramento

Sacramento's John Salmons scores in front of Cleveland's Drew Gooden in the first quarter.
Sacramento's John Salmons scores in front of Cleveland's Drew Gooden in the first quarter. AP

The Sacramento Kings turned LeBron James into a point guard with the game on the line.

It's just that they needed to be able to turn themselves into something else with the game on the line. Instead, they remained true until Friday night's bitter end, unable to close out on the boards and unable to properly handle the ball and, therefore, unable to win even while holding James to five points on 1-for-9 shooting in the final two quarters.

It was 97-93 Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, and it was painfully familiar.

"Listen," Kings coach Reggie Theus began. "We've got all the built-in excuses. Which are not acceptable. But I still thought we gave them a gift.

"The minutes are high. We play (today at Chicago). But we can't worry about that. Bottom line, we had the game within our reach. You (make) 22 turnovers against a team that doesn't pressure. It's night in and night out, and it's ridiculous."

Turnovers and rebounding.

Rebounding and turnovers.

The Kings came in 28th in the league in turnovers, then committed six in the fourth quarter that led to 10 Cleveland points. Two in a row helped the Kings' chances of rallying from a 90-89 deficit fade away for good.

The Kings came in 26th in defensive rebounding, then watched, in some cases literally, as the Cavaliers crushed their spirits with offensive rebounds. Anderson Varejao's layin with 1:02 left was on a third shot and made Cleveland's cushion 94-91.

Varejao's rebound of a James miss the next trip downcourt, after Beno Udrih's running scoop shot got Sacramento back within 94-93, led to Daniel Gibson's decisive 3-pointer and the final margin with 11.8 seconds left.

"That's just been it in most of our close games and the games that we lose," Kings center Brad Miller said. "That's our downfall. Turning the ball over and giving up a lot of offensive rebounds."

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