John Bazemore / The Associated Press

An increasingly frustrated Michael Malone feels the Kings’ defensive flaws fall on his shoulders. “I’ll always look at myself first ... try to help these guys out and do a better job as head coach.”

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There's little defense for Kings' woes

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 - 11:02 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 - 7:15 pm

There are times during a game when Kings coach Michael Malone looks as if he’s a parent plotting the proper discipline for his children after they fail to follow directions again and again.

Malone’s arms are folded as he grits his teeth pacing the sideline, muttering about the latest Kings folly, usually a defensive breakdown.

Malone will stop, ponder what he’s just seen, and shake his head in disappointment.

It’s a look that has become commonplace this season.

Malone was hired because of his defensive expertise, but either he isn’t as astute defensively as his bosses thought or he’s not a miracle worker, because the Kings continue to be one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA.

They have allowed 102.6 points per game, third-highest in the NBA, and they have allowed opponents to shoot 46.7 percent, tied for fourth-highest in the league.

Though the Kings have acquired younger, more athletic players, they still have been unable to contain guards off the dribble with any consistency and appear to lack the basic knowledge of opposing players’ strengths.

The latest example occurred in Wednesday’s loss at Atlanta, when accomplished outside shooter Kyle Korver matched his career high with eight 3-pointers, including seven in a row. Korver has made a 3-pointer in an NBA-record 95 consecutive games, so there’s no reason the Kings shouldn’t have been prepared for him.

Malone joked last week that he shouldn’t be touted for his defensive acumen considering the Kings’ struggles.

Now he said he will evaluate his approach to make his defensive philosophies easier to understand.

“I’ve just got to continue to analyze how the message is being delivered,” Malone said. “Because if I say Kyle Korver is a good shooter and he goes out there and goes 8 for 10 from the 3-point line, either we’re not paying attention or I’m not doing a good job of communicating to the players.”

But Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said Malone is not to blame.

“We’re well prepared before every game,” Cousins said. “Can’t put that blame on coach; it’s on us.”

Malone, however, insists he’s responsible for the Kings’ struggles.

“I’ll always look at myself first, take the hit, try to help these guys out and do a better job as head coach,” Malone said. “So when we play Miami and Orlando in our next two games, we’ll have a clear understanding of who we’re playing, who the personnel is on the floor and what our coverages are.”

Cousins said if the players don’t change their mental approach, it doesn’t matter how much Malone talks defense because he’s not on the court.

“He preaches it over and over – we’re a defensive team,” Cousins said. “Once we get that in our heads, we’ll be a better team.”

Even if they are prepared, tonight’s game against Miami figures to be a challenge. The Heat has won the last two NBA championships, and LeBron James is one of the most efficient offensive players in the league.

And the Kings know that, right?

“No easy nights in the NBA,” Malone said. “ To get embarrassed like that in the fourth quarter (in Atlanta), then play the reigning NBA champion in their house. We’ll see if we come ready to play.”


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

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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