Wow! The Knicks came out firing threes and trying to push the ball right at the rim. Who saw that coming with a Mike D'Antoni team?
What a night. Not sure if the most-telling part was the coaching staff emphasizing at shootaround how New York would be launching at will from behind the arc and Kings players still not coming out on shooters or the way the Knicks yucked it up on the bench and the court in the fourth quarter. So many special Kings moments to choose from.
Not to worry, though. Your Kings will flip the switch and focus every night once things start to get serious. They'll be tuned in for the playoffs.
As is usually the case with the wandering bunch, it's more about attitude than execution. They were terrible on defense -- perimeter defense, interior defense against the dunk-a-thon, pick-and-roll defense -- but mostly because they didn't put out the effort in that unforgivable first quarter. A D'Antoni team is always going to score. No getting around that. But contesting the shots may have been a novel approach.
So I mostly asked the Kings about their obviously flawed chemistry / personality in the glum post-game locker room. This is so about focus. Some players agreed with the premise. Some disagreed. Some talked around it, even when pressed, maybe because they're covering for each other or really don't know.
Question: What was the difference between the last two games (win against the Lakers on Tuesday, competitive in a loss against the Lakers on Friday) and this game in terms of approach and intensity?
Answer: I just think the way they (the Knicks) play. It's hard to play a team like that off of a back-to-back, not seeing them play all year. A team that comes out and plays helter-skelter like that, it's just hard to prepare for that off a back-to-back.
Q: So it's more of a style thing?
A: Yeah. Off of a back-to-back, it's hard to prepare for a team like that when you haven't seen them all year.
Q: How much of this was you guys being tired?
A: I guess that was a part of it. I think it's more just playing that team like that off a back-to-back. It's hard to prepare for. We haven't seen a style like that all year. They just hit us hard in the first quarter. After the first quarter, we played them even for the rest of the game. They just hit us hard in the first quarter. We wasn't used to that style.
Q: Did you guys start with the right attitude?
A: We always come out with the right attitude. Come out and play hard and try to win a game.
Question: Do you feel like you just gave the Laker win back?
Answer: Seems like it. Seems like whenever we start getting a little bit of momentum, we start playing well, we just revert back to our old tendencies. We just didn't come out to play from the get-go tonight.
Q: What can you do about the three-point problem? You shot 13 percent, they shot 48 percent. It seems to be kind of a reoccurring thing, both defending and shooting?
A: You can't have that kind of discrepancy. We knew that was what they were trying to do. I think early, the troubles we had defending the pick-and-roll -- it's not hard to shoot 'em if you're wide open. There's a reason guys are in this league and especially in that system. I mean, if you're shooting wide-open threes, it's no challenge shooting 48 percent.
Question: Did fatigue play a factor tonight?
Answer: Fatigue doesn't have anything to do with playing defense and being ready to play. We did everything wrong in the first quarter. We did play kind of decent in the last three quarters. It's unacceptable.
Q: You guys knew they were going to come out shooting threes, right?
A: We talked about it all day. We know they shoot 30 threes a game.
Q: So then what happened once the ball went up?
A: They shot 27. I don't know. Ya'll were watching just like I was watching. I think the thing is, we feel like we can turn it on and turn it off whenever we want to. And we can't do that. We get up to play the Lakers and then we come back and play horrible against a mediocre team. It's been happening all year.
Q: We've talked about that a lot. Why would a team that struggles for wins so much get into this mode that they feel like they can turn it on and turn it off, as you said?
A: Young. Being comfortable. I think all of those things come into play. We've got to get better at the beginning of games against teams that we know we can hang in there against and have a chance to beat. We don't do that. I don't know why. But we play the toughest teams really tough and the mediocre teams horrible.
Q: Are you surprised this team would get into a mode that they feel like they only need to get up for certain games and the rest will come natural?
A: I think we're comfortable. We may be tired from last night. Last night was a draining game. But as I said today, we've got to be ready to play for 48 minutes, regardless of who it is. Especially on the defensive end. Some nights, you're not going to make shots. But on the defensive end, you've got to be there, and we weren't there tonight.
Question: How does this one compare to some of the really bad losses of the season?
Answer: It's a loss. I don't try and compare it to any. All of our losses, it doesn't matter the amount of points. It's still a loss.
Q: This isn't worse?
A: It's a letdown. We played L.A. here real tough, got a W. And played them tough down there. They got a couple things their way. But we should have definitely come out here with more energy and definitely with a different mentality that we're going to surprise people. We just had a disappointing game.
Q: What does it say about the personality and the mindset of this team that you guys don't come out with great energy just when you had some momentum going?
A: I don't think it's that. I just think it's one game and that's how we have to take it. Obviously you can't play like that, and we haven't lately other than that. We definitely have to take advantage of home court. We've got to start it against Minnesota, have a little bit of momentum going into Portland.
Question: Defense, I'm sure, is an issue right now as it is. But teams seem to be getting real hot from beyond the three-point line against you guys lately.
Answer: It's not the coaches' fault. I put it on us. We're not running guys at the line. Some games we do it and some games we don't do it. We've just got to stay consistent on that.
Q: You guys talked a lot today at shootaround that the Knicks are going to shoot a lot of threes. They come out shooting threes and there's a lot of times defenders aren't out on them. Why would that be?
A: Sometimes they've got five people that can shoot threes. They were shooting the ball well.
Q: Is any of it attitude? Did you guys come in with the right attitude and approach?
A: I think we did. I think we came in with the right attitude. We just ran out of gas.
Q: Obviously this team sometimes falls into the mode where you think you can just turn it on and turn it off at certain times. Do you see that as well?
A: Yeah. I do see that. We've got to stay aggressive. We play good two games against the Lakers, then we come back tonight kind of laid back. I think that's the key.
Q: What does that say about the personality of this team, that you guys fall into that trap on a regular basis?
A: I don't think it says anything about our personality. I think if we focus every game, if we come out every game like we're ready to play, I think we'll be all right. It doesn't say anything about us.
Q: I guess I'm saying: Why aren't you guys focusing every game?
A: I guess we've just got to keep working on it. We did very good in two games. We didn't do too good this game. I will put it like we ran out of gas. We were looking like we were exhausted out there. Legs weren't really reacting like they were supposed to. We just got to keep working on it. It's a process.
Question: There's clearly a lot of frustration. Do you think it's about as low as it's been all year?
Answer: We're just frustrated because we just can't figure out why. We're trying. We're doing everything. We're trying to practice. We had a meeting. We talk to each other. We communicate. Everything. But it just doesn't work. So we've got to keep trying to figure it out, I guess. To go out there and play hard for 48 minutes, we've got to figure it out, all of us, that it starts from the tip off till the 48 minutes. That's what we have to do. Figure it out.
Q: What's the chemistry issue on this team that you guys keep giving good moments away?
A: I think the chemistry is still good. I know sometimes, I made a mistake and go to a teammate that got basically -- how should I say? -- messed up because of me. I go to him and tell him like, "Hey, it's my bad. Are we straight?" Like, "Yeah." Nobody's perfect. We just make a couple of mistakes and then in the third quarter we came out pretty good, trying to play hard and be aggressive on defense and on offense. We kind of got back. Like I said, Al Harrington just buried us.
Q: But if this is a team that sort of seems to feel like you can turn it on and turn it off depending on the opponent, doesn't that indicate that there's something lacking personality wise?
A: The thing is, we're in a position right now where we shouldn't look at any team.
Q: But you guys do that, don't you?
A: We were thinking, "OK, it's the New York Knicks. We had good games against L.A. We have the home crowd. We should get that win." But we're in a situation right now, we shouldn't look at opposite teams. We should just look at ourselves and do stuff we do the best and focus on what we're told to do on defense. At the beginning, we didn't come out and do what we were told. It is frustrating, but we can't think about it. We have a day off tomorrow to get some rest and think about it and then Monday we have another game. It's another game that we can win.
Q: Bobby Jackson made the point that you guys sort of feel like you can turn it on and turn it off. How have you guys earned the right to be that confident?
A: We're not. We don't have any right to do that. He's right. Maybe it's not all the players here do that. Maybe some. But we all have to be turning on like that in the morning when we wake up. "OK, today it's a game. Let's focus. When we come to the practice, we do some stuff. That's what we're going to do. That's what we have to stick with." We have to turn on the switch in the morning, not when we get to the practice or shootaround.
Q: But doesn't that indicate that something is lacking in this locker room, personality wise or chemistry wise, whatever word you want to use about attitude?
A: Yeah. It's on us. We have to figure it out. And we're definitely going to do that. We're going to talk to each other, communicate. I think the communication is the best thing we can do right here and get us back on track.