Kings' DeMarcus Cousins impressed by Philadelphia's Joel Embiid
In this season of good cheer, the Kings got into the spirit late Friday night.
On the team’s charter flight home from Minneapolis, players danced in the aisles and belted out tunes after back-to-back road wins over Utah and Minnesota. Then they got two days off to celebrate Christmas and their turnaround to the season.
On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the mood remained upbeat thanks to a 102-100 victory over Philadelphia that extended the Kings’ season-best winning streak to four games.
The Kings return to the road Wednesday night to face Portland , which lost to Sacramento 126-121 on Dec. 20 at Golden 1. With six wins in the last eight games, the Kings have risen to eighth in the Western Conference, and eight of their next 10 games are at home.
“It’s a good vibe right now,” center Kosta Koufos said. “Winning cures a lot of things.”
34.5 DeMarcus Cousins’ scoring average during the Kings’ four-game winning streak
Guard Ty Lawson said the Kings have gone from a bickering bunch during two four-game losing streaks to a more unified group. There is civil discussion and idea sharing, Lawson said, reaping much better results.
“We like each other a lot more now,” Lawson said with a laugh.
Regarding the in-flight singing, reports Tuesday after practice were mixed. Coach Dave Joerger chuckled when he said he couldn’t remember what the players were attempting to sing. Lawson said DeMarcus Cousins entertained with dance moves – Boogie with the beat. There also was a lot of joyful noise.
“I heard vocals,” said Chris Clark, the team’s media relations director. “Were they in tune? Good question. Um ... .”
Koufos, one of the team’s most vibrant personalities, said singing is more about effort than talent. It’s sort of like rebounding: Give it your best shot.
“Everybody can sing,” the veteran said. “It’s a talent if you can sing very loud. Ever seen the movie ‘Elf’? Speak loudly and you’re a singer. Have to embrace it. Be confident and sing.”
Koufos added, “I can sing in Greek, sing in English. I can speak French here and there. You name it.”
The Kings want to keep humming with Cousins at the wheel. The All-Star center is averaging 34.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists during the four-game winning streak. After the win over the 76ers on Monday, when he made a go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds and sealed the outcome with a blocked shot, Cousins said, “Guys are starting to buy in. We’re on the right path, but the scary thing is, we’ve still got a lot of room for improvement.”
Added Joerger on Monday, “The locker room feels good. Two weeks ago, where were we? That’s why you don’t get too low. I don’t think we’ll win the championship yet.”
Joerger paused, then laughed and said, “We might win the championship!”
After Tuesday’s practice, Joerger said: “Our chemistry has been good. Guys like each other. It’s a long journey, a long season. Certainly, winning feels good. It’s relieving. At the same time, my job when we’re losing is to be more positive, and when we’re winning, my job is to see what we can do to get better.”
It’s a good vibe right now. Winning cures a lot of things.
Kosta Koufos, Kings center
Cousins will be Portland’s focal point after he scored 55 points on 17-for-28 shooting against the Trail Blazers last week. He became the only player in the franchise’s history with two 55-point efforts.
“He thinks he can play better,” Joerger said of Cousins. “He’s amazingly talented. He’s been sensational. He’s very naturally gifted, an incredible feel for the game. Tremendous hands. He gets it. It’s cool.”
Winning and singing make for a lot of cool.