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  • Jose Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) sits on the team bench after being removed late in the fourth quarter of the NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

  • Kathy Kmonicek / The Associated Press

    Sacramento Kings' Isaiah Thomas (22) leaps between Brooklyn Nets' Andrei Kirilenko (47) and Deron Williams (8) to pass in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, March 9, 2014, at Barclays Center in New York.

Kings’ Thomas says he’s forcing the issue

Published: Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 - 10:13 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014 - 11:56 am

Isaiah Thomas admits he’s 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 shouldn’t – dribbling into trouble and giving the ball to the wrong team.

That happened in Sunday’s loss at Brooklyn, when he matched his career high with seven turnovers while dishing out only four assists.

“That’s been on my mind lately,” Thomas said. “Trying to get the assists too much, and it’s forcing me into turning the ball over when things aren’t there.”

That’s 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, we’re too comfortable, we’re lackadaisical, and that’s carrying over into the game. We’ve 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 that’s not there,’ that’s when we get ourselves into trouble.”

That’s 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.

“I’m trying to make plays, and I’m 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 it’s 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 don’t like to lose; we just have to find a way to play much better basketball on both ends of the floor.”

Malone said he won’t change his starters or player rotation. The message won’t change, either.

“What we have to realize is the only way we’re all going to benefit is if we win,” Malone said. “And we’re only going to win by playing the right way every night.”


Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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