SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman has been around the NBA long enough — nine seasons as a player, 22 as either a head coach or assistant — that he didn’t need to see a box score to know what wasn’t the problem in his team’s 120-111 loss to the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on Wednesday.
“One hundred eleven points is enough points to win in this league,” Wittman said. “You should win every game if you score 111 points if you’re a good defensive team. That’s who wins in this league. That’s who’s going to play in two weeks in the playoffs.”
The Wizards (36-39) don’t figure to be one of those teams. Washington’s fourth loss in five games dropped the Wizards four games behind in the loss column to eighth-place Indiana in the race for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. They also trail the ninth-place Bulls by two games in the loss column.
Defense was entirely the problem. Sacramento received 29 points and 10 rebounds from center DeMarcus Cousins, shot 56 percent from the field, scored 58 points in the paint and saw their reserves outscore Washington’s 49-34.
“We had such a lack of discipline at both ends of the floor,” Wittman said. “That’s what it boils down to.”
The Kings (30-45) have known for a while that they won’t be participating in the playoffs for the 10th straight season. But Sacramento did reach a small milestone, topping the 30-victory plateau for the first time since winning 38 in 2007-08 and beating Washington for the sixth straight time at home.
“Obviously, we’re going to be at home (for the playoffs),” forward Rudy Gay said. “If we can bring as many teams as possible home with us, that’s what we want.”
Sacramento, which trails the Houston Rockets by seven games with seven left for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, also won its third straight at its fabled home after a seven-game home skid that was their longest since Nov. 2008. The Kings play only four more games in the building before opening up the Golden One Center next season.
“I’m encouraged because of the way we’re playing,” Kings guard Darren Collision said. “But I’m discouraged because I wish, you know, it’s unfortunate we couldn’t play like this all season long.”
Cousins made 11 of 18 shots but fell one point short of his 26th 30-point contest. He has gone five straight games without reaching the figure and needs to score 30 one more time in Sacramento’s final seven games to match Mitch Richmond’s single-season mark of 26 for the Kings. Richmond set the mark during the 1996-97 season.
His night also ended in a sour way when he picked up his 16th technical foul of the season in the final seconds for apparently mocking an official. The technical earned Cousins a one-game suspension, and he likely will miss Friday’s contest against the Miami Heat.
Guard Rajon Rondo scored 15 points and added 11 assists, but he also was ejected after picking up two technical fouls for his taunting of the same ref. Rondo reached at least 10 assists for the 49th time this season, an ongoing single-season record for the Kings. He also recorded four of Sacramento’s 12 steals.
Bradley Beal scored 24 points and Otto Porter Jr. added 20 for the Wizards (36-39), who haven’t won in Sacramento since Jan. 21, 2009.
“We had no sense of urgency,” Beal said. “To me, it felt like we gave up. We just weren’t hungry enough.”
Guard John Wall posted 14 points and 13 assists, his 10th double-double in his past 11 games for Washington. But teammate Marcin Gortat, who dominated Cousins and the Kings with 27 points and 16 rebounds in a 113-99 home win on Dec. 21, finished with just six points on just 2-for-9 shooting to go with 12 rebounds.
Cousins established early that the rematch would be different, making five of seven shots and scoring 11 points in the opening period.
Omri Casspi scored 15 points, Kosta Koufos tallied 12, and Collison had 13 to lead the domination by Sacramento’s reserves.
NOTES: Kings general manager Vlade Divac signed a multi-year contract on Wednesday. Divac has been an executive with the team since Aug. 31, 2015, and the Kings made the playoffs in all six seasons he played with them (1998-2004). The Kings did not announce how long the contract was for. “My commitment to Sacramento goes back to my playing days here,” he said. “I’m grateful and happy to be part of a process of creating a winning franchise.” … The game’s starting point guards — Kings G Rajon Rondo (14 games), and Wizards G John Wall (10) — were responsible for the two longest 10-plus assist streaks this season. Wall also is second among all NBA guards with 47 double-doubles, and he and teammate Marcin Gorat have combined for 84, the most among teammates this season. … Kings coach George Karl said he may hold out starters such as C DeMarcus Cousins, F Rudy Gay and G Rajon Rondo again before the season is over. All three were back in the lineup after sitting out Monday’s contest at Portland. Cousins faces a one-game suspension Friday against Miami. … Washington has two more games left on a season-high five-game road trip, and played the first of four remaining games against teams that are out of the playoff race.