MIAMI -- There are times during a game when Kings coach Michael Malone looks as if hes a parent plotting the proper discipline for his children after they fail to follow directions again and again.
Malones 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 hes just seen, and shake his head in disappointment.
Its a look that has become commonplace this season.
Malone was hired because of his defensive expertise, but either he isnt as astute defensively as his bosses thought or hes 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 Wednesdays 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 theres no reason the Kings shouldnt have been prepared for him.
Malone joked last week that he shouldnt 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.
Ive 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 were not paying attention or Im not doing a good job of communicating to the players.
But Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said Malone is not to blame.
Were well prepared before every game, Cousins said. Cant put that blame on coach; its on us.
Malone, however, insists hes responsible for the Kings struggles.
Ill 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, well have a clear understanding of who were playing, who the personnel is on the floor and what our coverages are.
Cousins said if the players dont change their mental approach, it doesnt matter how much Malone talks defense because hes not on the court.
He preaches it over and over were a defensive team, Cousins said. Once we get that in our heads, well be a better team.
Even if they are prepared, tonights 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. Well see if we come ready to play.