The Kings hope to improve in many areas, not all of which can be seen in the box score.
Some problems, such as slumped shoulders and hanging heads, are obvious. When the Kings got too caught up in their emotions in the past, opponents sprinted by for easy baskets.
Though Kings coach Michael Malone saw little of that during the preseason, he thought his players focused on the previous play too often during Wednesday's season-opening 90-88 win over the Denver Nuggets.
He doesn't want that to continue.
"The one thing that was disappointing to me throughout that game was there were stretches where we weren't playing as well as we would have hoped, and the body language that we displayed, I thought, was really poor at times," Malone said. "Guys dropping their heads if we missed a shot, slumping their shoulders. We have to have a next-play mentality. If you miss a shot, if you make a mistake, don't compound it by making another mistake. Move on."
Such behavior is especially risky against the Los Angeles Clippers, tonight's opponent at Sleep Train Arena. If the Kings get caught moping, the Clippers could make them pay on the fast break with dunks by Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Though the Kings held Denver to 88 points, improving transition defense remains a top priority for Malone. Sacramento was worst in the league in fast-break points allowed last season, and the Nuggets scored 23 points in transition before being shut out in that category during the fourth quarter.
But changing the Kings' body language will take time, much like breaking them of the habit of not focusing on defense.
Some Kings didn't like it when Indiana's George Hill said after a win in Sacramento last December that the key to beating them was to "punish the criers" by running down the court for easy scores while they moaned to officials.
But Hill was on target. The Kings spent an inordinate amount of time whining or bickering with each other when they could have been getting back on defense.
Malone wants to see the Kings "uplift" each other instead.
"Handle (bad moments), have poise and not get down on yourselves and not get down on your teammates," Malone said. "In the past, from everything I've heard about this team, once adversity struck, it was over. Yelling, pointing fingers, distractions.
"So we have to have the mental toughness and discipline to say, 'OK, let's stay together.' Bend, but don't break."
Et cetera – After shooting 40.7 percent against the Nuggets, the Kings practiced Thursday at Sleep Train Arena instead of their adjacent practice facility.
"I thought we had a lot of great looks that didn't go down," Malone said. "So it's just an opportunity to get over to our gym, get a lot of shots up, get used to the lighting, the floor, the baskets. Hopefully it will help."
The Kings were 0-19 in games in which they scored 90 points or fewer last season.
"We're working for something different," guard Isaiah Thomas said. "We're trying to be a defensive team."
Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.