Kings coach George Karl didn’t trumpet his team’s 12-17 record entering Sunday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Sleep Train Arena.
But that mark isn’t so bad in the Western Conference, where at this rate a below-.500 team could make the playoffs. The Kings were just a half game out of the eighth spot in the West at tipoff Sunday.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Karl said. “I’m not sure I’m impressed.”
The Kings’ challenge is to take each game seriously and not overlook an opponent based on its record. More than once this season, Karl has cited the possibility of not respecting an opponent as a factor in a loss.
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“You tell them stories, you bring up situations,” Karl said. “This team hasn’t qualified for the playoffs, but if we stay where we are right now, I guarantee six, seven and eight and nine (playoff seeding) is going to be determined by one game or two games max. So the loss in Charlotte, we might be thinking about that in March.”
In that game, the Kings led by 22 points in the third quarter before collapsing and falling in overtime.
Karl said if the Kings want to make the playoffs, they must play more consistently. It’s not so much about their record because “every NBA season has a different pulse, it has a different personality, it has a different scenario.”
“It’s about staying strong,” Karl said. “Perseverance is a huge part of an NBA season. ... Even though it’s 82 games and it’s a long marathon race, every game has a value.”
I’m happy with where we’re at. I’m not sure I’m impressed.
George Karl, Kings coach
A Karl protégé – Portland’s Terry Stotts is among several NBA coaches with a connection to Karl.
Stotts played for Karl in the Continental Basketball Association and was on his coaching staffs in the CBA and NBA.
“He’s had an amazing career,” Stotts said. “Obviously, my time with him goes back to Great Falls, Mont., (in the CBA). He’s always been a passionate, winning coach. He’s always made a difference wherever he’s been and changed the culture every place he’s been.”
Stotts said he’s tried to implement the freedom Karl gives his players on offense.
This team hasn’t qualified for the playoffs, but if we stay where we are right now, I guarantee six, seven and eight and nine (playoff seeding) is going to be determined by one game or two games max.
George Karl, Kings coach
Back from Reno – The Kings recalled rookie Duje Dukan from their NBA Development League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. He averaged 13.4 points in nine games with the Bighorns.