Kings fall, effort questioned

SACRAMENTO — Mikki Moore didn't come up with the ball, but he had tried.

The Sacramento Kings forward tussled with Kurt Thomas near the baseline, reaching and tugging and pushing for the possession and prompting coach Reggie Theus to air his thoughts for all to hear.

"I've got one guy giving effort," he yelled with a shaking fist. "One guy!"

It was only the beginning of the message sent by Theus on Wednesday night at Arco Arena, where the Kings' 105-92 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics broke their four-game winning streak and left Theus questioning the basic elements of his team like he rarely has this season.

In a postgame news conference in which Theus was highly critical of his team for how they helped the Sonics to their 13th win of the season, he refused to use the absence of center Brad Miller as excuse enough for the loss. Miller, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week whose finger injury suffered Sunday required nine stitches, didn't play for just the second game this season on the heels of his best week as a professional.

"I can't use that as an excuse because I think even with Brad out we should've played a lot better and with a lot more focus," Theus said. "That is all about leadership, (and) there was absolutely none on the floor tonight. None."

There was, however, a career night from Sonics point guard Earl Watson, whose first triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) came with a Sonics subplot of some significance.

While all eyes and spotlights had been on rookie Kevin Durant in Seattle this season, the talented guard out of Texas had begun to frustrate his teammates with his unconscious shot selection and humbling shooting percentage (40.4). But five Sonics scored in double figures and Durant scored 17 points with an efficient 6-of-12 shooting night, a stark contrast to the 5 of 20 outing Jan. 27 when Kevin Martin's buzzer-beater gave the Sonics their 14th consecutive loss.

Martin was quite different, too, scoring just five points in 30 minutes on 1-of-10 shooting after tallying 26 points against the Sonics in the last meeting.

And while Durant's shot selection was improved, the Kings' was not. They were just 36 of 98 from the field (36.7 percent), a mark better only than the season low 34.5 percent against Golden State on Nov. 28. Mike Bibby was 4 of 15 and missed all five of his 3-pointers, leaving Theus to question his team's identity crisis of sorts.

"I'm hoarse because I kept saying, 'Stop shooting jump shots,' " Theus said. "We're not a jump-shooting team. I don't know what they think, but we're not a jumpshooting team."