George Karl can preach defense until he’s blue in the face.
At some point, the Kings coach stressed this week in practice and before Wednesday’s game against New Orleans, the message has to sink in. Defend with pride and purpose. Or get run over in the race to the playoffs.
Sacramento’s defense has been, to put it gently, one of the most generous in the league.
“For us,” Karl said, “we’ve got to continue to figure out our defense. It seems to be our Achilles’ heel. We take one or two steps forward and something blows up on us.”
Casspi back – Omri Casspi returned to action after missing the previous four games because of upper-back soreness.
The veteran forward leads the Kings in three-point accuracy at 47.7 percent, fourth best in the NBA. He was averaging 12.8 points entering Wednesday, and since becoming a starter he’s averaged 15 points.
But Casspi did not start against New Orleans. Karl stuck with the ever-active Quincy Acy, whose energy and ability to defend the pick-and-roll earned him extra minutes.
Player settlement – Former Kings forward Luc Mbah a Moute, now with the Clippers, has settled his dispute with Sacramento after a failed physical in July.
Mbah a Moute played for Sacramento early in the 2013-14 season before he was traded to Minnesota for Derrick Williams. He signed a free-agent contract with the Kings on July 14, 2015, but the contract was voided when he didn’t pass a physical. Mbah a Moute filed a grievance against the Kings and signed with the Clippers in September.
The Kings had no comment on the matter, per spokesman Chris Clark, but Mbah a Moute told the Los Angeles Times this week his view of the failed physical, “It was wrong, but I moved on.”
Mbah a Moute didn’t disclose how much he received in the settlement but joked to the Times, “Enough to get a burger at In-n-Out.”
Mbah a Moute starts for the Clippers, who like his defense.
Reynolds on ’Reke – Kings longtime television analyst Jerry Reynolds said he was sorry to see Tyreke Evans leave Sacramento.
Evans was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 as a bright spot during an otherwise bleak time for the franchise. He was traded to New Orleans in the summer of 2013 in a three-way deal that landed the Kings guard Greivis Vasquez, who was shipped to Toronto along with others, netting them Rudy Gay and Acy.
“Loved watching him play,” Reynolds said. “Tyreke was terrific. Heck of a player who has gotten better. He would’ve been really good in George Karl’s system.”
Evans got off to a slow start this season, missing the first 17 games because of a knee injury. He is averaging 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists.
Anderson returns – New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson is forever a fan of Sleep Train Arena. It was Arco Arena when he grew up attending games, in awe of players like Vince Carter, and then marveling later at being Carter’s teammate.
Old Arco in 2005 was where Anderson helped power Oak Ridge High School to the CIF State Division II championship, downing national powerhouse Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
“Great memories,” Anderson said. “I love this place. It’ll always be special to me. It means a lot to me.”
Anderson’s parents, Sue and Jack, still attend games, including Wednesday’s. So does Steve Scott, Anderson’s coach at Oak Ridge. Scott and Anderson had a long chat after the pregame shootaround.
It’s in the shoes – The Kings are encouraging fans to donate old basketball shoes to create a “special foam” under the wood floor for Golden 1 Center that opens next fall. The extra bounce on the playing surface will be a “fundamental feature” of the new arena, according to Kings.com.
Fans dropped off their old kicks before Wednesday’s game. The Kings website added, tongue in cheek, an editor’s note: “This is a unique opportunity for fans to be a part of an important element of the new arena, so we kindly ask fans not to donate any Kobe’s. ;)”