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Kings look to end ‘self-inflicted’ mistakes that have led to losses

Dave Joerger directs his team during Thursday’s loss at Orlando. The Kings’ coach said his veterans “should know better” and “make some smarter plays.”
Dave Joerger directs his team during Thursday’s loss at Orlando. The Kings’ coach said his veterans “should know better” and “make some smarter plays.” The Associated Press

The Kings sometimes make a play that would earn a rookie a quick seat on the bench.

But the Kings haven’t had rookies on the court. Only one, Malachi Richardson, has played in a game this season, and that was for two minutes at the end of the season-opening blowout win at Phoenix.

“The (mistakes) that are self-inflicted are the worst ones,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “What I told them (Friday) is we’re not a young, young team. We should know better. Veterans or guys that are mid-veterans, we should make some smarter plays.”

The Kings do have several new players and are learning Joerger’s system with limited practice time. But that doesn’t excuse the tendency to give away possessions by throwing the ball out of bounds while attempting a risky full court pass.

A learning curve is expected, but the Kings have made their task harder with careless play, poor concentration and lack of urgency. These problems cannot be attributed to still getting comfortable with Joerger’s system.

“At the end of the day, it’s been like two weeks (in regular season) that we’ve been playing now,” said guard Garrett Temple. “And like coach said, we don’t have any rookies in the rotation. The mistakes we’re making, we’ve got to correct them in terms of paying attention to our calls and actually executing our defensive game plan.”

Those are reasons the Kings have dropped the first three games of their five-game trip that continues Saturday at Milwaukee. Joerger said the Kings often have compounded their mistakes, which is even harder to overcome on the road.

A turnover followed by a bad shot can quickly turn a five-point lead into a tie or deficit, something the Kings have seen happen on this trip.

The Kings practiced for the first time on the trip Friday at the Bucks’ practice facility But once the season starts, Joerger rarely will put the team through a grinding session, since players need to be ready for games.

It’s why Joerger relies more on video to teach once the season starts.

“When you’re playing this many games, it’s difficult to go out there and drill, and we’ve had some slippage defensively,” Joerger said. “It’s early, so we’re still trying to build some things, cement some things. You have that because you don’t have the practice, but everybody’s on the run this time. So you just pull out the positives and correct the errors that are made. You just can’t do it on the court.”

Defense remains a priority for Joerger. It was the focus throughout his first training camp in Sacramento. But devensive breakdowns have compounded the Kings’ careless mistakes on offense.

“The ball is getting into the paint too much, I think,” Joerger said. “And that’s on drives and then in pick-and-rolls. And once that happens, it causes all kinds of other problems, kick-out threes and offensive rebounds.”

And it would help if the Kings reduced mistakes that lead to big deficits. Joerger shouldn’t have to tell his veterans to avoid trying to make spectacular plays when simplicity is safer and better.

“I think the things that we have to work on are attention to detail, both offensively and defensively, to the game plan,” Temple said. “We have to execute with a sense of urgency on offense. We get into our sets way too late offensively. We’re allowing our offense to dictate our defensive energy. I think we have to have a lot more energy on both sides of the floor.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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