Monte McNair

Kings' bad losses ‘frustrating' to McNair after wins vs. top teams

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The Kings are 31-23 entering the 2024 NBA All-Star break, good for the Western Conference's No. 8 seed.

While Sacramento has earned huge wins through the 2023-24 NBA season, like its most recent over the defending-champion Denver Nuggets on Wednesday at Ball Arena, the Kings frustratingly have dropped numerous winnable games.

In an appearance on SacTown Sports’ “The Carmichael Dave Show with Jason Ross” on Friday, Kings general manager Monte McNair shared how Sacramento’s big-time wins make the heart-breaking losses much more agitating. 

“The way the West is, all those wins -- every single game is going to be of huge importance, McNair said. “In some ways, showing that we can reach those peaks makes the [winnable losses] more frustrating.

“We’ve beaten some really good teams in some really tough situations. So, to show that we can do that and then not be able to follow through on some of the others is frustrating. We definitely feel that frustration. I think for us, though, it just shows upside in this group. If you can beat Denver on the road, you can do a lot of things.”

The Kings erased a 16-point second-half deficit in their 102-98 win over the Nuggets -- on the second night of a back-to-back and in their third game in five nights -- proving Sacramento can survive in rough conditions.

However, the Kings have suffered too many losses against lowly teams such as the Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets, while also blowing a 22-point fourth-quarter lead to the Phoenix Suns a month ago. 

But instead of dwelling on the past, McNair is leaving space for the Kings to improve, ideally turning those embarrassing losses into NBA playoff-worthy victories.

“For us, it’s not just saying, ‘Oh, some good, some bad,’ McNair emphasized. “We have to dig in. [Mike Brown] and I talk, our staff talks, our coaches talk. ‘What can we do? What are the issues? What are the correctable issues?’ I think that’s going to be a big part of this [2024 NBA All-Star break]. Just time to catch a breather and look at some of those things.

“It’s certainly been an up-and-down year. It sheds light on what this group was able to do last year, where I believe, after the first two weeks of the season, we didn’t lose more than two straight games. And our guys were able to bounce back so much. This is a little bit more normal in today’s NBA. You got to bring it every night. The nights that we haven’t, we’ve gotten bitten a few times. That’s going to hurt us down the stretch.”

During the 2022-23 NBA season, Sacramento snapped its 16-year postseason drought dating back to 2002, finishing with a record of 48-34. 

While showing glimpses of last year’s team, the Kings currently are fighting for a spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament -- which is not the most ideal position.

But McNair knows Sacramento has a higher ceiling than what its shown thus far, and he’s remaining optimistic about where the Kings still can go to end the year.

“We still got a chance down the stretch to put ourselves in a good position for April and May,” McNair declared. “It’s not too late, but those things hurt us and we can’t let any more of those happen.”

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