SACRAMENTO, Calif. — OK, the novelty is over.
Any emotional charge the Nets once got from weathering a coaching change and the indefinite suspension of Kyrie Irving is dead and gone.
The Nets, a team that entered the season with contender aspirations, suffered their most lopsided loss of the season Tuesday night, 153-121, to a hot Sacramento Kings team.
That’s right. The Nets defense gave up 153 points, making the Kings the first team in the NBA this season to score more than 150. In fact, it was the most points the Kings have scored since getting 154 in a win over the Sixers in 1993.
Things have a good chance of getting worse before they get better as the Nets close out this West Coast trip Thursday in Portland, one of the two best teams in the Western Conference.
“They made shots,” said Kevin Durant, who led the Nets with 27 points. “It not like we didn’t try. They were better than us. I wouldn’t say it was a lack of effort or guys didn’t care. I just think they were better.”
Ben Simmons agreed: “We got smacked. Offensively and defensively, they were better.”
It was the fourth straight win for the Kings, who had seven players score in double figures.
The Nets dropped to 6-9, including 4-4 under coach Jacque Vaughn, who took over for the fired Steve Nash on Nov. 1. They are 1-2 on this road trip without Irving, their second-leading scorer who missed his seventh straight game on Tuesday. Irving was suspended for a minimum of five games without pay on Nov. 3 after he posted a link to an antisemitic film on his Instagram and Twitter accounts on Oct. 27.
Terence Davis led Sacramento with a season-high 31 points; he shot 12-for-16, including 7-for-10 from three-point range.
The one bright spot for the Nets was the play of Ben Simmons, who came off the bench to attack the bask and scored in double figures for the first time this season. Simmons finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Nets split the first two games of this four-game West Coast trip, following an emotional win over the Clippers with a bad loss to a bad Lakers team. The Nets were missing a number of key reserves in the Lakers loss, including Simmons and Seth Curry.
“I don’t know. Our minds, our bodies, our souls are still in L.A.,” Vaughn said when asked why the effort didn’t seem all there against the Kings. “L.A. will do that to you sometime. And so, we definitely gave maximum effort against the Clippers and we’ve been reeling since.”
The game got away from the Nets in the second quarter as they could do nothing to contain Davis.
After the Nets tied the game at 40 on a Curry three-pointer with 9:11 left, Davis scored 10 points on a 16-0 Kings run, hitting two threes and scoring on two breakaways, and he also had three steals in the surge. The Kings then stretched that out to a 29-4 run, which let them take a commanding 69-44 lead with 2:22 left in the second quarter.
“The sequence was a little shattering to our confidence a little bit,” Vaughn said.
Said Simmons: “That run was not acceptable from us, all of us. Players. Coaches. That’s not acceptable ... We’ll look at film and see the big differences. I think they just played better than us tonight.”
The Nets have a day off to look at video before playing Portland on Thursday. It is pretty doubtful that Irving will rejoin his team for that game, so they are likely going to have to figure it out without him.
Said Durant: “I think we’re going to come out next game with great intentions and a good game plan and play extremely hard. And we’ll see what happens.”