After the Kings went 1-5 on their recent trip, it seemed they would need plenty of practice this week.
Instead, coach Keith Smart gave the players Tuesday and Wednesday off before resuming practice Thursday in preparation for this weekend's back-to-back home games against Utah and Houston.
Smart hopes the two days of rest followed by two days of practice will give the team time to solve its recent woes. The Kings have won four of their past 17 games. And since winning consecutive games Jan. 14 and 16, they have lost nine of their past 11.
"The team needed a rest because we started to get a little raggedy," Smart said. "But I thought we came back together as a group and played a very, very good game in Utah (in Monday's overtime loss) and we got a layup away from winning it."
Smart said the team had a good practice Thursday, with a lot of on-court work. He said he will use the practices to reinforce teaching points.
"You can go over something (Thursday), show them on film, go over it a little more (today), show them on film," Smart said. "And then you have a shootaround day (Saturday), so you have time to reinforce some things. Then you have all this time to back it up with film."
Smart said the extra time helps young players. The Kings are error-prone, so they need to spend more time on fundamentals.
But Smart added that it's a fine line between practicing more and wearing down the players.
"This group has shown this (season) and even last (season) that they're a repetition group," Smart said. "And you have to do things over and over, and at the same time you have to rest and recover."
The Kings practiced just once during the trip. A scheduled practice in Boston was canceled after the team played its third game in four nights in three time zones.
As the trip progressed, the Kings seemed to need retooling. Before the loss in Utah, they were more than "a little raggedy," especially in Saturday's season-worst 39-point beating by the Knicks in New York. But Sacramento couldn't practice after the loss because the NBA prohibits it after back-to-back games.
Despite pledging to play better defense, the Kings have struggled mightily, allowing the second-most points (103.1 per game) and the fifth-highest shooting percentage (.465) entering Thursday's games. They allowed more than 120 points in two of the six games on the trip, and the Knicks made 19 three-pointers, the most by an opponent this season.
Guard Tyreke Evans said a lack of focus contributed to the Kings' defensive lapses on the trip.
"We've got to want to go out there and play defense first and stop guys," Evans said. "Running guys off the three-point line, helping and getting back to the three-point shooters. There's a lot of guys out there making these shots."