Motivation shouldnt be a problem for the Kings tonight.
After all, the Portland Trail Blazers enter the game at Sleep Train Arena with 26-8 record.
The Kings tendency to let down against weak teams was addressed in a players-only meeting Sunday, a day after they lost at home to the Charlotte Bobcats. One of the leagues worst offensive teams, the Bobcats put on a shooting clinic at times while ending a five-game losing streak.
I believe we play with more urgency or fear when we play against (top) teams, so we kind of depend on each other more then, center DeMarcus Cousins said. When we play one of the lower-caliber teams, we feel like we can do it by ourselves. Once we balance that out and realize we need each other each night, I feel like then well come out and have consistent games no matter who the team is.
Cousins and guard Isaiah Thomas called the meeting.
Some players were hitting their boiling points, and we just needed to clear the air and talk amongst each other and not with the coaches, Cousins said. It was actually a real good meeting, and we got a lot out of it.
Cousins said a lack of trust on offense and defense, in addition to the Kings letdowns, was discussed.
Its puzzling that the Kings have less urgency against losing teams. Their 10-22 record is the second-worstin the Western Conference and fourth-worst in the NBA. Nevertheless, Sacramento sometimes thinks it has an advantage because of its talent.
To be honest, were not that good of a team, Cousins said. And the reality is teams come in and look at us like that. Were going to be underdogs no matter who the team is. Weve got to come out and play at a high level.
Combating the Kings mindset has been a focus of coach Michael Malone. He said its the trait of a bad team and Sacramento has fallen into that belief too many times.
Weve talked about it quite a bit, Malone said. I cant explain it. Were in no position to disrespect anybody that comes into our gym or a gym that we go into on the road. When youre a young team thats been in the lottery and youre 10-22, you have to respect everybody, and we have not done that.
Thomas said the Kings can solve their problems only by playing the right way. That means sharing the ball on offense and playing much better man-to-man and team defense.
When we play against the good teams, we know we need each other to win, and we do the right things and play the right way, Thomas said. When we play teams we think we should beat, guys kind of do their own thing. We play differently, and its obvious.
Thomas explained why the Kings think that way, given their record.
I dont think its always about the record, Thomas said. ... We feel like were a better team than not just say the Charlotte Bobcats but a lot of teams, even though (our) record might not show it. There are some games going in where were like, We really should win this game. (Tonight is) going to be tough, but weve definitely got a chance to win because we can beat any team in the NBA.
And if the Kings do not come out focused and prepared, they have shown they can lose to anybody. Changing their approach would be a first step toward more wins.
In the NBA, everybody has talent, Malone said. What separates good teams from bad teams is winning habits, trust, character, all those types of teams. My biggest challenge is to keep this team together as were struggling.
Transaction The Kings waived center Hamady Ndiaye on Monday.
Ndiaye averaged 0.4 points, 1.3 rebounds and 5.3 minutes in 14 games. He made the team out of training camp with a non-guaranteed contract, partly because Carl Landry was lost to a torn hip flexor.
With Landry participating in drills and working toward a return to the lineup, Ndiaye became expendable. Also, contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season today.
The Kings have 13 players, two below the league limit. Landry is not participating in full practice yet, but that could happen in about two weeks.