Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

January 14, 2009
Opening tip: The Kevin Martin leadership issue

Kings (9-30) at Warriors (11-28)

Scoring: Kings 20th (97), Warriors second (105.8).
Shooting: Kings tied for 20th (44.6 percent), Warriors 18th (44.8).
Scoring defense: Kings 27th (106.2), Warriors 30th (111.7).
Shooting defense: Kings 28th (47.6 percent), Warriors 25th (47.1).
Rebound differential: Kings 28th (minus-3.6), Warriors 30th (minus-5.5).
Three-point defense (bonus coverage): Kings 30th (40.8 percent), Warriors 28th (38.7).

The links: Warriors coverage in the Contra Costa Times and San Francisco Chronicle.
The almanac: Nothing much happened this date in history.


It has become the Kevin Martin leadership issue because quiet Kevin Martin wanted that role this season and said he would do well in it and because the Kings just got lit up again and are a laughingstock. Kevin Martin said so: "We're a joke right now. That's how people look at us."

He meant even outside Sacramento.

So, leadership time. The Kings go to Oracle Arena tonight, and if you thought the Magic was giddy to be left alone to fire away from behind the arc, the Warriors will get saucer eyes from the scouting report filed off the Tuesday comedy routine at Arco. Orlando hit 23 threes, an NBA record, and its best player, Dwight Howard, is all about inside. Golden State lives on the perimeter, has been off since Sunday and gets an opponent on the second night of a back-to-back, though, as Kenny Natt noted, his Kings didn't expend much energy in the opener.

The leadership deficiency has been a screaming story line since the opening weeks. Getting Francisco Garcia back Nov. 28 after he missed the first 17 games with a strained calf was a big help, Bobby Jackson and Garcia being the two best leaders on the team. The coaching change, from Reggie Theus to Natt, was no help. Same apathetic group that can't be bothered to challenge shooters.

No one actually holds them accountable for being heartless and headless, of course. It's good pep-talk sound-bite stuff but in truth a campaign promise. Natt admits Beno Udrih hasn't been giving a full effort. Then keeps starting him.

Martin says that all changes now. This is him stepping up, in a different way than leading by example. He was always good at that, working hard, playing hurt, loving the game and improving into a 20-point scorer.

"It'll be the last time somebody comes in here and then plays like that and us not give at least a good effort," he said in the postgame reflection Tuesday. "That's not even team basketball. There was nothing fun about that, and we've got a game tomorrow. I'm talking about the last time us not give an effort like that. That's me being on the court and getting in guys' stuff and if other guys get mad or whatever you want to call it, that's fine. But we won't come out there like that again."

Question: How can you be so sure?

Answer: Because I'm going to play hard and it's going to start with me. And if other guys are not playing hard, then coach Natt's going to see that, including myself. It's time to start making people accountable because that was just an embarrassment tonight.

Also on the topic:

Question: I know you're just one guy and you want to start seeing the accountability effected, but how do you change what you do? Is that strictly a coach thing or do you kind of step in as well?

Answer: It's both sides. That game tonight, I don't understand why we even came out. Just sitting on the bench in the fourth, you realize things. And the effort tonight, that's going to be the last time for that one.

Q: When you talk about making guys more accountable, are you going to begin to assert yourself into that role?

A: Just like tonight, there could have been a couple instances where people can come up to me or I can come up to people. We've just got to be together as a team. If I'm not getting the job done, a guy needs to come up to me and let me know. If somebody else is not getting the job done, you can tell him, "This is what we need to do." It's not necessarily anything about getting in their face and telling them how it is, but we need to have a reality check.

Q: So what would you personally do differently attitude wise if this kind of game begins to happen again?

A: Just like I said. Just holding guys accountable. Verbalizing with guys this time.

Q: Will you get in their face?

A: I might not need to get in their face. But we can have a little talk. It was just a total team collapse tonight. We can't have that. I don't care if you're missing shots or what. You just can't get embarrassed like that.

We'll see. Martin is full of positives, in performance and personality, but it's just not in his nature to assert himself in that setting.

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