PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) understands what his team should do on offense. "What's been working is us playing unselfish," he said.

Assists go up when Kings go from selfish to selfless

Published: Sunday, Mar. 10, 2013 - 2:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:13 pm

The Kings have decided it's OK to share.

Among the many issues the Kings have had this season, their selfishness with the basketball has been chief among them.

When things have gone bad, it was almost certain the Kings would stop passing. And though they're just 3-7 in their last 10 games, the Kings haven't stopped passing.

The Kings average 20.6 assists this season (tied for 25th in the NBA) but have averaged 26.5 over their last 10 games.

The Kings need every assist and point possible, especially since they continue to allow 105 points per game, the most in the NBA.

For now, the Kings will take improvement wherever they can find it and hope everyone sticks to what's working.

"We've still got guys (who are) going to go one-on-one; that's how some guys are," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "We're going to try to do it ourselves; that's how some guys are. At the same time, we've got to know what's working and what's not. And what's been working is us playing unselfish and just making the next pass and guys just shooting it with confidence … ."

Scouts and opposing coaches have questioned the Kings' ability to play team basketball all season.

The assumption has been the Kings would always go back to who they are – a team of one-on-one specialists – even to their detriment.

The Kings didn't do that in Friday's win over Phoenix. Four players scored at least 20 points as the Kings had 30 assists.

"This team is definitely capable of moving the ball," said forward Patrick Patterson, whom the Kings recently acquired from the Houston Rockets. "… And when we do that, we show flashes of averaging high assists and getting great, open shots."

Shooting has been a season-long problem, in part because of the high number of tough, contested shots that the Kings have taken this season.

Better ball movement and better looks at the rim would ideally raise the team's shooting percentage (tied for 16th at 44.3 percent).

"Every time we've had a great scoring game, high assist game, it's been (because they have) moved the ball and guys getting clean, open looks," Kings coach Keith Smart said.

Smart said the addition of Patterson and Jason Thompson shooting well of late has provided more space on the floor and helped to improve the offense.

Perimeter players also are doing a better job of driving to the rim and finding an open teammate if the defense collapses. That has benefited Marcus Thornton, who is averaging 19.9 points in the last 10 games.

"We're looking for the next guy," Thomas said. "We're looking for good shots and guys are also making shots. And that's half the battle to getting assists."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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