The Kings have played 11 games with their current starting lineup.
What they havent played much of over that span is defense.
The Kings are allowing 108.6 points in their last 11 games, which is awful defense, according to coach Michael Malone.
That lack of defense is a big reason the Kings are 10-21. Sacramento entered Friday 29th among the 30 NBA teams in points allowed, giving up 104.3 per game.
The most frustrating part for Malone is the Kings have shown they can defend, particularly against good teams. Six of the Kings wins have come against opponents with winning records.
We have to make sure the Houstons, the Miamis, the games where we defend at a high level, that cant be once in a blue moon, Malone said. It has to be more of a constant, and it starts with our ability to contain the basketball. We all see it every night, but (Thursday against Philadelphia) we had three guys getting wherever they wanted to go all night.
So guys have to take a lot more pride in their individual defense, contain the basketball, keep it out of the paint and make teams try to beat us with contested jump shots. Weve been hammering that home and well continue to hammer that home because thats the only way were going to win, if we defend at a much higher level.
Malone used Fridays practice to work on defensive principles, which he didnt see enough of against Philadelphia or in many other games.
They were coming down and really doing whatever they wanted, really getting into their offense and being able to take good shots, Kings forward Derrick Williams said. Any time the other team is able to take good shots, youre not going to really win too many games.
Malone even tried to use a zone defense in Thursdays 113-104 loss to the 76ers, and the Kings allowed an open 3-pointer.
I dont think you can be a good man-to-man team and a good zone team, Malone said. You kind of have to pick who you want to be and put your efforts into that.
For Malone, that means drilling the fundamentals of man-to-man defense to the team repeatedly and emphasizing where players need to help and rotate.
We need so much work on our man-to-man defense, especially since the trade and with our limited practice time, Malone said. If you put time toward a zone, thats going to take away from your base defense.
Malone has preached defense since he was hired and has no plan to change and become a team that is all about offense.
I know the stuff that were teaching works, because its worked everywhere Ive been and its worked at a high level and helped us get to the playoffs, Malone said. One thing I know is, Im not going to abandon ship. Even as bad as our defense has been, I know it can work ... if we do it correctly. Its shown (that) even this year look at the stats in our wins; our defensive numbers are terrific.
The challenge becomes we have to do it more consistently so youre not a team with 10 wins and 20-plus losses.