George Karl has a certain level of empathy for the Kings after more than a week on the job.
The Kings are playing for their third coach this season, and they’re adjusting to different strategies for the second time this season.
“There’s a lot of philosophical difference from what they’ve been doing and what I’d like to do,” Karl said. “... I think we’re in that gray area of the experiment.”
Karl knows he must be patient. But patience shouldn’t be confused with acceptance of how things have been.
The Kings need to break habits such as taking contested shots, not passing enough and committing turnovers. They are far from being what Karl wants them to be, but they were good enough to beat one the NBA’s best teams, the Memphis Grizzlies, 102-90 Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Sacramento is 2-1 under Karl, with both victories coming at home.
The Kings pleased Karl when they didn’t cave in after the Grizzlies roughed them up with their physical style while taking the lead at the end of the third quarter.
“I told them (Wednesday) the consequences of what’s going on the court has to come someday, but I’ll be patient with you a few more games, a few more practices,” Karl said. “There’s way too many turnovers and way too many crazy shots, but the interpretations is some coaches think I play wild and crazy. We want to play fast, but we want to play smart.”
The Kings committed 21 turnovers, a factor as they blew a 16-point lead before they outscored the Grizzlies 26-13 in the fourth quarter.
If there was a positive about the turnovers, it’s that DeMarcus Cousins had only two.
“I talked to Cuz (Wednesday) about his turnovers,” Karl said. “He leads the league in turnovers (4.5 per game entering Wednesday), and we’d like to challenge him the last 25, 30 games of the season to have much better decision making. I don’t mind turnovers if there’s good decisions involved. It’s when we try to make the game of basketball difficult and the game says you just can’t do that.”
Cousins, who had 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists and fouled out after 24 minutes, didn’t pat himself on the back for cutting down the mistakes.
“I think that came from me playing less minutes,” he said with a laugh.
Cousins said the Kings still have a lot to work on under Karl.
“There’s still a lot of things we could have done a lot better in the system,” Cousins said. “Continuing to run for 48 minutes, executing better ... a lot of small mistakes, a lot of major mistakes. We’ll continue to work and get better.”
The Kings held off the Grizzlies by moving the ball better for assists (24) and because Rudy Gay torched his former team for 28 points.
Gay said the Kings’ resiliency helped, too.
“This is a game that probably would have got away from us because we would have put our heads down when they tied the score and went up one, but basketball is a game of runs,” Gay said. “I think the style of play right now helped us because you see a couple shots go in, a couple easy baskets, and now we’re back in the game and we’re up again.”
Karl wants to figure out how to stop the Kings’ lulls, such as their 14-point third quarter.
“I’d like to see the game get more flow and more fast in the second half,” Karl said. “All the games that we’ve played, we’ve run out of gas somewhere ... sustaining the energy in this building especially, to play 48 minutes of pace and energy, I think we can be very good.”