Cross-posted at Sactown Royalty...
Last night, the Kings' 14-game win streak against the LA Clippers came to an end.
While I could simply point to the fact the Clippers had a higher FG% (49.3% to 42.1%), a higher 3PFG% (40% to 20%) and a higher FTM% (86.7% to 78.8%) as factors leading to the Kings' inevitable loss, and jaunt back to my earlier comments that the team which has fewer field goal attempts (tonight it was the Clippers' 73 to the Kings' 76) is actually winning a higher percentage of Kings games (17 wins to 9 losses so far, trust me), tonight's deep data dive looks at the Kings' seeming inability to shut down their opponents in the third quarter. It's a very disturbing trend - one we've all noticed, and the stats actually back it up.
Last night, the Clippers beat the Kings by 9 points, but they actually outscored Sacramento by a full 10 points in the third quarter alone, after a fairly even first half. It was the 7th time this season where the Kings were outscored by 10 or more in the 3rd quarter, more than all other quarters combined.
When the Kings are outscored in the 3rd quarter, they lose big. On the season, the team has been outscored 750 to 692 in the 3rd quarter, for a 58 point deficit. In contrast, the Kings have in aggregate outscored opponents by 39 in the 2nd quarter and 22 in the 4th quarter, and are running a deficit of 15 points in the opening period.
For a team who on the season is fairly well matched on offense and defense, both scoring and giving up 99.9 points a contest, the third quarter meltdowns are alarming. On only one occasion, on December 10th, against the hapless Atlanta Hawks, did the Kings outscore their opponent by 10 or more points in the 3rd quarter.
In the 7 games where the Kings were outscored by more than 10 points in the 3rd quarter, the team lost 5 times, and won twice (at Utah on 12/14 and at Denver on 12/22). In all 5 of those losses, including tonight, the 3rd quarter provided the margin of victory.
Something is wrong with the team's halftime speeches or buffet. If team isn't coming out of the locker room ready to play, they're toast. A five game swing could obviously make the difference between a last-place squad and one challenging for the playoffs. Think about it. These third quarter collapses have occurred in more than one of every four games. We know the drill. Do the coaches and players know this is a problem?
As always, feel free to poke and prod the stats to your heart's content. You can find the fully updated Kings 2006 Stat Database, with new features, including the quarterly breakdown, here: (Download Now)