Kings Blog and Q&A

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

February 3, 2012
Friday practice: Different film strategies

At the end of practice today, the Kings gathered around a TV set up alongside one of their practice facility courts and had a brief film session.

It's part of the strategy of head coach Keith Smart -- a big believer in using film to reinforce his critiques and teachings to players -- to combat the dangers of having an early film session in the usual dark room.

"Players sometimes come over in the morning, they just got up, you put them in a dark room and they're half asleep, and then you've got to come on the floor," Smart said.

"This way has been good for me, I've used it the last couple of years, is to get your practice going and then bring the film to them," he said. "You've got all the lights, they're already up and going."

Today, Smart said he showed some clips of the Kings playing defense against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night to illustrate the job they did of rotating and trapping the Trail Blazers.

Another play they re-watched -- Isaiah Thomas' block of Portland guard Wesley Matthews in transition. The point was not to admire Thomas' vertical. Smart pointed out that a wild pass by Thomas had led to the turnover on the other end that gave the Trail Blazers a fast-break opportunity.

"He made a mistake on the other end and got back into the play, didn't quit on the play, then goes up and gets a huge block," Smart said.

Thomas recounted the play with some humor. He said he saw Matthews, Gerald Wallace (a 6-foot-7 former dunk contest participant) and Jamal Crawford running the fast-break and decided he probably wouldn't have much of a chance against Wallace. So he keyed on the other two, Matthews kept the ball, and Thomas' block ensued.

* Forward Travis Outlaw, who hadn't played at all in the Kings' previous two games, played more than 11 minutes against the Trail Blazers. Smart said he is still tinkering with rotations, particularly with players like Marcus Thornton and Chuck Hayes working their way back from injuries.

"Travis came in, a guy who's been working but hasn't been playing, and it showed last night in his game that he has moved up the chart to now start getting some playing time," Smart said. "I mentioned to the team, the first 20 games that we had, I'm probably going to start shifting some gears now as we start to get healthy.

"More bodies are going to come back, I'm going to shift some gears and probably some other guys are going to probably start getting some more time because of that. We can't have the same type of output from our last 20 (games) as we move to the next set of 20."

* Since taking over as head coach, Smart has characterized the Kings as a group of players still trying to become a team. On Friday he said the Kings did a better job against the Trail Blazers of communicating on defense. But the kind of cohesion he wants to see is also to be found away from the court, and it gives some insight into how Smart envisions the Kings improving.

"Sometimes I just sit around on the plane and just listen to their chatter and see what they're talking about, and hear what they're talking about," Smart said. "And you can hear things now that they're talking about the game a little bit more, they're talking about what they could do on an opponent coming up, and that's how the team starts to grow.

"And then eventually they start going out to eat places together, eating with each other, and having fun and growing right there. And then you have a game like last night, or several games prior to last night, where they were doing so many good things, not getting the win, but then last night everything came together with the win. And now they can say, 'Man, see, we just do this.'

"And then watching other NBA teams playing basketball and seeing the good teams and how high a level they play at most nights, starts to rub off. You have success where you take a team that is very, very sure of themselves and really made them scramble to play last night. So that's all growth for this team on the floor, but more important they've got to grow faster off the floor,"

-- Matt Kawahara

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