Kings Blog and Q&A

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

November 18, 2010
Lack of focus, lack of defense

There wasn't nearly enough time for me to cover the "sub-sixth grade" play that Kings coach Paul Westphal described following the Kings sixth consecutive loss.

For every good thing the Kings did, there seemed to be two bad things. The Kings have been bad on defense this season, but to give up 99 points and 66.7 percent shooting after the first quarter is horrifically bad.

Players and Westphal mentioned focus as an issue.

"There are some players who tend to be consistent and there are some players who tend to have their focus wander," Westphal said. "And I'm not going to point individual players tonight. We need some work on our focus."

Really no need to call out any individual because as bad as the Kings defended after the first quarter, it would be hard for any player to say they had a good game defensively.

The issues with the defense are many. It's obvious players are in the wrong position or in some cases, just don't know where to be. Rotations aren't solid. Those all point to a lack of preparation.

And when all else fails, the Kings foul.

It's hard to understand how focus wanders during a game, but it's happened a lot in 10 games this season. And like it's gone a lot this season, the Kings focus seemed to pick up once they were down double digits.

"It's been like that the whole year," said forward Carl Landry. "Teams are averaging 100-plus points on us so it's nothing new. So we've just got to continue to get better on defense."

Landry's frustration was obvious. After their best defensive quarter of the season (14 points in the first) the Kings had their worst quarter (40 points in the second).

"That's unacceptable, to let a team come into your home and let them score 40 points in a quarter," Landry said. "That's unacceptable. Some teams don't score 40 points in a half so we can't have that if we want to win games."

*Not only was Wednesday's loss the sixth in a row for the Kings. It came against a struggling Knicks team.

But the Kings have looked so out of sync, they're hardly in position to look at a team's record and assume anything.

"It is disappointing," said DeMarcus Cousins. "I'm not going to sit here and bash the teams - this is the NBA. It's tough competition every night no matter what their record is so I'm not going to sit here and bash the teams just because of their records. We're a good team - we have a losing record - but we still are a good team. We've got the talent to beat the Lakers; we've got the talent to beat the Detroit Pistons. No matter who it is, we've just got to keep going out and playing."

*Westphal when asked if the rotation might be too deep right now:

"I sure do. I think that we had to find some things out and the only way you can really them out is in the heat of battle. It would be nice to say you could find out in practice....the team that was the second unit tonight, they abused the first unit so badly that you felt sorry for the first team. And then tonight the reverse happened when the lights came on. Unfortunately in this business for some people you have to learn the lesson when the lights are on."

Westphal on Landry's play lately. He's averaging 20 points and 9.3 rebounds in his last three games.

"We're doing a better job of consistently getting him the ball. He's doing a phenomenal job on the offensive boards and he's being aggressive. He's playing like his skill and age, he's right in his prime, say he can play."

Westphal on Cousins performance (15 points, 10 rebounds, 5 of 15 shooting) and his struggles (at least four turnovers in five games, including five against the Knicks):

"I think DeMarcus is coming quickly. He needs to learn more about the NBA. He did a good job of staying out of foul trouble and made some nice defensive plays tonight. I think he needs to shoot a higher percentage and he will as he learns what shots are possible for him to get off in what situations. And he's got to cut down on some of these turnovers that seem to happen to him. Whether it's a cheap travel call or something that he's involved in that caused the turnover he's just got to tighten it up a little bit and he will."

*Donte' Greene is usually one of the players around for post-game interviews. He was gone fast this time, so there was no chance to ask about his contribution. Here's what Westphal said about Greene:

"I was really pleased with Donte (Greene) tonight. Donte has had it rough these last two weeks, and he's stayed ready. I had a talk with him today and I said look, Donte, I know it's not easy what you're going through and I've made some tough choices. Coaches, when they make tough choices, are always evaluating them and things don't always stay the same as the choices get evaluated. The only thing you can do is stay ready, because if you're not ready when you get your chance - and you will get your chance - when you get it and you're not ready, then you can only blame yourself. Even if you're upset - and anybody would understand if you are - the only thing you can do is be ready, and he was ready. I thought he played an excellent game."

*The starting lineup of Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih, Landry, Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert got the Kings off to the decent defensive start Westphal hoped for. It just didn't last the entire game.

*Perhaps this from Westphal sums up the problems the Kings had against the Knicks and all season:

"The bottom line is in the NBA, you have to play 48 minutes of precise basketball and then live with the results, and we didn't do that. Our focus was all over the place and a person that wanted to be charitable could say that we're young and we're trying to get it together but at the same time, we expect more. I expect more from our players in term of focus. This is a time that I appreciate the fact that nobody in our locker room or our fans, nobody likes to see us lose, what is it? - five home games in a row now? They think that we're under achieving, and I they're right. We expect to do better and I don't mind that people expect us to do better. And it's time for us to take stock and do better. We're going to find guys that are going to play defense, that are going to play together and stop making the same mistakes over and over. And then, if we win or lose, we'll say we played an NBA game tonight."

--Jason Jones

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