Every coach has things they are sticklers for, and one of Dave Joerger’s is not giving up points in the paint.
For Joerger, a lot has to do with how those points are given up.
One way to irk Joerger is for guards to score those points easily in the paint.
“There really isn’t a defense for turnovers or straight-line blow-bys,” Joerger said. “You can hang in there and keep them out of the paint as much possible but not get beat straight up, cleanly, then you can offer some more help.”
The Kings are having part of their defense tested in back-to-back games. The first came Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers at Golden 1 Center followed by a Friday night contest at Portland.
There will be no shortage of guards taking their turn against the Kings’ defense.
The Lakers feature a collection of guards who love to attack the paint led by D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams. Portland has one of the most dynamic scoring backcourts with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
When dealing with the Lakers, who were a surprising 4-4 before Thursday’s game, Joerger said it was about minimizing chances.
“Try to limit what you can limit, and that’s them getting out in transition and getting easy ones,” Joerger said. “Try to make sure they don’t get second chances and their complimentary guys get rolling. … Try to make their looks tough and make sure they only get one.”
Joerger wants better results than he saw during the Kings’ recent five-game trip when guards had too much success getting into the paint. Provided the Kings don’t allow players to drive by with no resistance, Joerger wants the rest of the team ready.
“You hope that the second line of defense is good and helping and try to funnel people to certain places on the court so they can help each other,” Joerger said.
That will also improve as communication between the Kings’ bigs and perimeter players improves.
“That’s what we’re growing with, especially in the pick-and-roll,” said guard Ty Lawson. “Because I feel like games we did lose (on the trip) it was probably bad communication on both parts. Miami, I think the last 10 plays (were) pick-and-roll. Atlanta was the same way, on the road trip. That’s the main part. If we want to take that next step to the next level, that’s where we’re going to have to do it – on the defensive end, pick-and-roll.”
Dealing with the Lakers’ guards is one thing. They’re still largely a young team.
An angry Trail Blazers team is waiting Friday.
Portland was dismantled by the Los Angeles Clippers 111-80 on Wednesday, and the score was that close only because Portland outscored the Clippers by 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“We play against a Portland team that couldn’t make a shot (Wednesday) night – that’ll be great,” Joerger quipped. “We’ll see Steph Curry 2.0 with Damian Lillard, and he’ll go like 8 for 10 from 3 probably.”
Lillard had just eight points against the Clippers and missed 9 of his 10 shots. Lillard averages 30.0 points a game.
McCollum also can be a problem. He’s averaging 21.2 points but also had only eight points, on 4-of-11 shooting, against the Clippers.