The Kings on Saturday were without their well-known defensive consultant, former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who accompanied them on the first two games of their four-game trip.
Thibodeau met up with the Kings for Wednesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and stayed for Thursday’s win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Kings coach George Karl said he and Thibodeau exchanged defensive philosophies.
We’ve been frustrated by some of the pieces (of the defensive problems) and sometimes the pieces move. We’re sometimes good at transition (defense) and other times were bad. How to build it and how to unify it in the next 22 games is a challenge.
Kings coach George Karl
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
“He has a way of teaching the game,” Karl said. “I think we might be stealing some philosophies of prioritizing the weaknesses instead of trying to complain about them all the time, maybe try to make them more aware through whatever – drills, practice, commentary – all that stuff.”
The Kings’ defense has struggled all season. They entered Saturday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs allowing a league-high 109.4 points per game.
When assistant coach Vance Walberg was fired last month, general manager Vlade Divac said Karl could hire a replacement, preferably someone who specialized in defense.
But with little time for practice and the season winding down, Karl is focused on maximizing what he has.
“We’ve been frustrated by some of the pieces (of the defensive problems) and sometimes the pieces move,” Karl said. “We’re sometimes good at transition (defense) and other times we’re bad. How to build it and how to unify it in the next 22 games is a challenge.”
Sacramento flavor – Two of San Antonio’s veteran additions after the trade deadline have ties to the Kings.
Shooting guard Kevin Martin, a first-round Kings draft choice in 2004, had his contract bought out by the Minnesota Timberwolves and has agreed to join the Spurs.
Point guard Andre Miller signed with the Spurs last week after being waived by the Timberwolves. The Kings acquired Miller from the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline last February, reuniting him with Karl, his coach with the Denver Nuggets.
Karl calls Miller the “best passer I’ve ever coached” and believes the guard belongs in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
109.4 Kings’ league-high points per game allowed
“I think it’s always this time of year, the rich get richer,” Karl said. “There’s never a time of the year where Robin Hood comes and gives to the poor. I’m not a Robin Hood fan. He didn’t show up.”
Ailing – Kosta Koufos missed Saturday’s game because of food poisoning, which also sidelined him for a game earlier this season.
Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi, Marco Belinelli and Karl also have missed games because of stomach ailments.