Kings plan to continue unselfish play

Published: Friday, Mar. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Friday, Mar. 15, 2013 - 11:03 am

SAN ANTONIO – When Kings coach Keith Smart moved the first few days of training camp to Colorado Springs, Colo., he hoped to foster camaraderie on a team full of one-on-one players.

For most of the season, it would have been fair to wonder if the team-building exercises were futile. If anything, these Kings loved to prove they could take over a game by themselves.

But after back-to-back games with 30-plus assists for the first time this season in a double-overtime loss at Miami and a blowout win at Orlando, the Kings are talking as if they're back in Colorado.

The Kings have touted a team approach before, only to revert to bad habits. This time, they say they want to keep it up.

"When they give up on who succeeds and allow the team to function first, they've been able to play and compete against anybody," Smart said. "But when one guy needs to have all the glory and the other guy gets upset, then we have our problems."

The way the Kings played in the past two games, there have been plenty of shots and points to go around. After scoring 129 points in a double-overtime loss to the Heat on Tuesday, the Kings scored 125 against Orlando. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time since the 1992-93 season that the Kings scored 125 points or more in consecutive games.

It is also the first time since the 1986-87 season that the Kings have scored at least 125 points in consecutive games on the road. They will try to end their five-game trip with a similar effort against the team with the best record in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, tonight.

"We've got a good understanding about just moving the ball," guard Tyreke Evans said. "This last game, we just want to do the same thing. Everybody's confidence is up, and we've got a flow going. We've just got to keep it up for the rest of the season."

The performances in the two games in Florida were surprising, given the competition. The Heat had won 11 straight, while the Magic is one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Kings have played their worst on the road against good teams and found themselves down big against losing teams, too.

There was no trepidation against the Heat or overconfidence against the Magic.

"When we play against the best teams and then we play against a team that's kind of in the role we are, to have the same energy, it all comes down to whether our guys can be selfless and give themselves up," Smart said. "Now they all can get what they want."

Center DeMarcus Cousins called the last two games "probably been the best basketball we've played all season."

Cousins also realizes the good vibe can vanish with a selfish showing against the Spurs.

When asked what it took to play the same way against Miami and Orlando, Cousins said: "Just wanting to do it. … Putting the team first and your own personal goals last. And that's what it's going to take."

Forward John Salmons acknowledged the past two games were good but knows this isn't the first time the Kings have talked the unselfish game. So what will guarantee the effort remains the same?

"Maturity," Salmons said. "Growing up. Part of being a pro is being consistent. I think that's what we've got to work on the most."

That includes when things go badly during a game. The Kings are at their most fractured on the floor during adversity.

"We've just got to stick to it," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "We've got to want to play together. That's the thing. If we want to play together, we'll do it. Whether the game is going well or it isn't, you'll play the right way."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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