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  • Jose Luis Villegas /

    Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins shakes hands with head coach Michael Malone during a timeout in the fourth quarter on Friday night, January 10, 2014 between the Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic at Sleep Train Arena.

  • JosŽ Luis Villegas /

    Sacramento Kings head coach Michael Malone walks onto the court as the Kings go down by ten points in the fourth quarter in Wednesday nights NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies, on January 29, 2014 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California

  • Jose Luis Villegas /

    Kings center DeMarcus Cousins will be a game-time decision because of the sprained left ankle that has kept him out of the last four games. Kings coach Michael Malone said he is not “very optimistic” Cousins will play.

Malone still trying to get Kings to play defense

Published: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 - 9:22 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014 - 7:27 pm

Kings coach Michael Malone knew it wouldn’t be easy to turn one of the worst defensive units in the NBA into a cohesive group.

That hasn’t made the process any less frustrating.

The Kings rank 28th in the NBA in scoring defense at 104.6 points per game and tied for last in opponents’ field-goal percentage at 46.9 percent.

Malone, however, won’t back down from his message: The Kings must play defense to climb from the bottom of the Western Conference standings and eventually become a playoff contender.

Malone is using all his resources to get the message across, including relying on players who have seen a team become multi-dimensional.

Malone asked forward Carl Landry to speak to the team about how the coach, as a Golden State assistant, saw a team not known for defense embrace it.

“The question came up, in Golden State, Year 1 ... We weren’t a very good defensive team, and we were a lottery team (in 2011-12),” Malone said. “The second year, we became a better defensive team, and we became a tough out by the Spurs in the second round.”

Landry joined the Warriors last season and played a big role in the turnaround. He said the Warriors changed their approach.

“Golden State had a team whose identity in the past was to put up points and outscore people as a unit,” Landry said. “But guys who were on the team in the past understood that’s not going to get you anywhere, and last year everyone bought in to defense.”

It has carried over into this season. Golden State is holding opponents to 43.4 percent shooting, fourthin the NBA.

Golden State used many of the Kings’ excuses for poor defense. The Warriors lacked elite man-to-man defenders. The Warriors had offensive-minded players who could not be expected to defend well.

“Carl talked about why we were so good,” Malone said. “It wasn’t because we had great lock-down defenders. It was five guys always working as one, covering for each other and communicating.”

Communication has been a problem for the Kings on defense. Good defensive teams talk constantly.

The Kings have too many possessions in which the dialogue doesn’t take place until a mistake has led to easy points for the opposition.

Malone and his staff encourage “ELC” communication on defense – early, loud and continuous.

As the Kings improve in that area and in understanding and implementing defensive game plans, they should improve on defense.

Malone liked what he saw in Saturday’s loss at San Antonio. The Kings have shown flashes of being able to defend this season, but the defense usually has been bad.

“Everybody on this team can score,” Landry said. “The Warriors had scorers. But it’s going to take everyone, including myself, to get better defensively.”

And it’s going to take time.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

Read more articles by Jason Jones

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