Keith Smart was pleased when the Kings reached the 100-point mark for the first time in 15 games the last time they played the Warriors on Feb. 4.
After Smart had vowed the Kings would run more, it was an indication the offense was starting to do so.
Since that win over the Warriors, Sacramento's opponent tonight, the Kings have ranked among the league's highest-scoring teams, averaging 101.7 points over their past 19 games.
Their record in those games, though, is 7-12. While getting up the court faster, they have also given up baskets at a higher rate, allowing opponents to score 103.8 points per game.
That included a 106-99 home loss Sunday night to the Atlanta Hawks, who hover in the bottom third of the league in scoring.
"I wish it was total defensive breakdowns," Smart said Monday. "Then I'd say, 'Oh, we're not doing anything (right).'
"It's just a little, small thing a close-out here, a box-out there, getting to a loose ball, getting out of your rotation.."
Often the lapses occur late in defensive possessions, Smart said.
Against the Hawks, who grinded out the 24-second clock working for a shot, the Kings frequently played good defense until the final three to five seconds.
At that point, Smart said, his players did not put a hand up to contest a shot or failed to secure a rebound.
Guard Isaiah Thomas said the Kings must bear down more in those situations.
"We were talking (Monday) about how we've got to trust each other on the defensive end, knowing if somebody gets beaten or blown by, he's got help, wherever it's coming from," Thomas said.
"A lot of it is communicating. We're not communicating. We're not calling out 'ball' when we're in scramble situations, little things that we can really get better on."
Aggressive defense has been emphasized as a key to sparking the Kings offensively. Since they have struggled shooting in halfcourt situations, the Kings want to get into the open court as much as possible and look for easier scoring opportunities.
To do that, said guard Jimmer Fredette, "You've got to try to force turnovers and limit (opponents) to one-shot opportunities. Hopefully, they miss, and then you can get out in transition."
One thing the Kings don't want to do, though, is run before securing a rebound. Smart said he has noticed his players start leaking out into the open court before the Kings have possession.
"It's not a coverage issue. It's not a scheme issue. It's just the discipline of staying in until we get the ball, and then we can run," Smart said.
The Kings have worked to improve their interior defense and have reduced opponents' points in the paint.
But teams have continued to shoot well against them (47.3 percent on the season) and pile up assists (23.4 per game).
"It's just getting into people," said guard Marcus Thornton. "It's the NBA. Guys are going to score points. It just comes down to who can stop who in a matter of seconds. That's where we're trying to get."
Hickson practices Forward J.J. Hickson (hip pointer) practiced Monday for the first time since landing on his hip after going up for a rebound against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1.
Hickson has missed the last six games.
"He was OK," Smart said. "He got on the floor, got a chance to move around, but we stayed in the halfcourt today."