AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Isaiah Thomas admits hes struggling with the concept of playing the right way.
Not in the sense that Thomas wants to go rogue and wreck the Kings plans on either end of the court.
But in his quest for more assists, Thomas sometimes finds himself doing exactly what he shouldnt dribbling into trouble and giving the ball to the wrong team.
That happened in Sundays loss at Brooklyn, when he matched his career high with seven turnovers while dishing out only four assists.
Thats been on my mind lately, Thomas said. Trying to get the assists too much, and its forcing me into turning the ball over when things arent there.
Thats been one of the problems the Kings have encountered in their last two losses as part of their season-long seven-game trip that continues Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons.
Coach Michael Malone said the Kings have been hit with the disease of me lately, with players wanting to pad their stats instead of making winning basketball plays.
Then there are the multiple defensive lapses and failure to execute simple parts of the game plan.
Brooklyn guard Marcus Thornton was a King less than three weeks ago before being traded, but it appeared Sacramento had no idea Thornton can get hot quickly, as he scored 27 points.
Then there are the disinterested starts to the last two games. At Brooklyn and Toronto, the starting lineup played as if tipoff was 30 minutes later than scheduled and quickly fell behind.
I feel like we need to come out with some type of sense of urgency, said center DeMarcus Cousins. We come out, were too comfortable, were lackadaisical, and thats carrying over into the game. Weve got to come out with a better focus.
In the last two losses, the Kings have showed only glimpses of crisp execution.
Against the Nets, that led to Sacramento having to rally from 16 down to tie score, only to fall apart when Rudy Gay left the game briefly with a minor injury and Thornton got going in the fourth quarter.
When we (execute), we have some offensive weapons on this team that are hard to guard, Malone said. But once we get in the mode of Let me do it myself; let me dribble into that crowd and try to make something thats not there, thats when we get ourselves into trouble.
Thats what Thomas said he has to avoid.
Instead of trying to make the offense work one-on-one, the Kings need to run their offense in the half court and use defense to create open-court scoring chances.
The floor needs space between players, not four players creeping toward the ball because they want to shoot. Players have to cut off the ball, be willing to give up the ball to open teammates and not force their own offense.
Im trying to make plays, and Im trying to force the issue to make a play for somebody else too much, Thomas said. I think I just need to play basketball and let it come, whether if its making a play for myself or making a play for somebody else.
From bad shots to not helping on defense, the problems are team-wide.
Nineteen games to go, my challenge, and one that I readily accept, is finding five guys that are willing to play the right way every night, Malone said. I know our guys dont like to lose; we just have to find a way to play much better basketball on both ends of the floor.
Malone said he wont change his starters or player rotation. The message wont change, either.
What we have to realize is the only way were all going to benefit is if we win, Malone said. And were only going to win by playing the right way every night.