INDIANAPOLIS Three games into the season, the Kings clearly have bought into the idea of playing defense.
There are still hiccups like giving up 38 points in the second quarter Saturday night but defense isn't the problem.
The Kings are still trying to find their way on offense, as they showed in a 106-98 double-overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Kings believe that as long as they keep defending, these tough losses will turn into hard-earned victories.
But that doesn't make dealing with losses easier.
"If they keep this up, they're going to end up being there in the end," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Sometimes when you're growing a team, you're just not getting the payoff. But that pays off if you keep doing things the right way."
The Kings fell into their bad habits on offense in a woeful second quarter to trail by 14.
They took quick shots, stopped sharing the ball and didn't do nearly enough to slow down the Pacers.
But the Kings regrouped in the third quarter. With reserves Chuck Hayes, Marcus Thornton and Aaron Brooks leading the way, they chipped away at the lead in the second half.
Thornton tied the score 91-91 on a three-pointer with 48.6 seconds left in regulation to force the first overtime. Thornton then tied the score 96-96 on a three with 26.4 seconds left in the first overtime after Hayes found him in the corner.
But in the second overtime, the Kings couldn't get the ball to Thornton enough.
"They made plays at the end," Thornton, who finished with a game-high 26 points, said of the Pacers. "I credit my teammates. They played hard, and we deserved this game. But sometimes it's like that. We've just got to regroup when we go home for the opener."
Smart said he was pleased with the Kings' effort. But they still must overcome their errors, which overshadowed forcing 24 turnovers (15 steals).
"Now it's just a matter of us as a group growing from a mental side," Smart said. "We lost the game not so much from the physical standpoint; we lost it on little key plays at critical moments of the game that could have helped us win."
The Kings believe their offensive problems will improve because they have scorers.
With so much emphasis on improving the worst defense in the NBA last season, Smart expected it would take time for the offense to catch up.
That means breaking bad habits, ranging from overdribbling to taking ill-advised shots, that have shown up in the first three games of the season.
"Spacing," Thornton said. "When guys get the ball on our team, we seem to hunt for shots, and we're too talented players to have bad spacing like that."
DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Kings (0-3) but shot 9 of 27 from the field while dealing with All-Star center Roy Hibbert much of the night (12 points, 10 rebounds, six blocked shots).
David West had 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Pacers (2-1).
Hayes said as tough as Saturday's loss was, there is reason for optimism.
"I'm discouraged, but I'm also inspired," Hayes said. "We played our (butts) off, and if we play like that 80 percent of the time, we'll win our fair share."