Even amid their recent defensive struggles, the Kings have shown the ability to score in bunches, reaching the 100-point plateau in 10 of 11 games entering Friday night. But there is one offensive trend coach Michael Malone wants nipped in the bud.
“Our turnovers are really rising rapidly, which is a concern,” Malone said before Friday’s game.
It’s admittedly a small sample size. Starting with their previous meeting against Miami on Dec. 20, the Kings had committed 58 turnovers in three games after taking relatively good care of the ball for much of the early season.
In Miami, the Kings committed 20 turnovers that led to 32 points for the Heat, which entered Friday leading the NBA in points off turnovers (19.7 a game). More of an issue for Malone were the 22 turnovers in Monday’s loss to New Orleans.
Malone said fatigue may have played a part Monday night – the Kings were coming off a stretch of four games in five nights on the road – along with players still getting familiar with each other after recent personnel moves.
Newcomer Rudy Gay (15 turnovers), DeMarcus Cousins (11) and Isaiah Thomas (11) were the main culprits in the three-game stretch. After the team practiced Thursday, Gay remarked it was only his second full practice with the Kings and some growing pains were to be expected.
“You’ve just got to roll with it,” Gay said. “I think practice is not just for me learning the team; it’s also for the team learning me. It’s going to come, but it’s been five games, just being thrown in there. It’s not like we want it.”
James said Kings assistant coach Chris Jent “used to be my workout guy” both in-season and during the summer, and that Jent also “helped me get my shot better.” Jent was the Cavaliers’ director of player development from 2006 until 2009, when he became an assistant coach in Cleveland.
Malone, meanwhile, was an assistant coach for the Cavaliers from 2005 to 2010. He and James left Cleveland the same year, with James going to Miami and Malone serving as an assistant with New Orleans and Golden State before becoming the Kings’ coach.
“Coach Malone, I love his intensity,” James said. “I always knew he had a smart mind and could be a head coach in this league, and it was only a matter of time.”
Spoelstra said he was comfortable sitting the three because of “the depth we have. We feel like that is one of the biggest strengths of our team.”