George Karl believes trips can benefit a team. His theory is about to be put to the test.
The Kings leave Monday for their longest trip of the season, eight games. The opener is Tuesday at New York in a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 26 because of bad weather.
“I think the road sometimes can be the ally of a young team,” Karl said. “It can be a growing experience for a young team..”
The road hasn’t been much of an ally to the Kings, who are 7-18 away from home.
This trip features three sets of back-to-back games: Tuesday at New York and Wednesday at San Antonio; Friday at Orlando and Saturday at Miami; and March 13 at Philadelphia and March 14 at Washington.
Karl will have nearly two weeks to see how the team responds to the challenge of playing on the road.
“I don’t think it’s the same game on the road,” Karl said. “A home court has a different energy than a road court, and there’s more momentum changes in a road game usually for a coach. But I think it’s also a mental challenge as much as a physical challenge to overcome those situations.”
Asked what concerned him about the trip, Karl said with a smile, “Where to find the cold beer after a win.”
Gone but not forgotten – Two players Karl coached recently died.
Jerome Kersey, best known for his time with Portland, died Feb. 18 at 52. Anthony Mason, best known for his stint with New York, died Saturday at 48.
“Too many people in my life are dying,” Karl said. “Jerome Kersey played for me in Seattle. It’s a tough one.”
Karl coached Mason in Milwaukee.
“Anthony was a great competitor, angry, smart, mean,” Karl said. “I liked him because he was a playmaking big. He’s a guy you could run your offense through and defensively wasn’t afraid of anybody, wasn’t afraid of any matchup. We never used him on small guys, but he could cover (small forwards).”
The Trail Blazers, who played the Kings on Sunday at Sleep Train Arena, wear patches on their jerseys to honor Kersey.
Nice pickup – One of the best moves before last month’s trading deadline was Portland’s acquisition of Arron Afflalo from Denver, where he played for Karl.
“Arron will be offended, but I think he’s in a great place,” Karl said. “I’m sure Arron thinks he’s a starter in the league. He can be a dynamic scorer. He’s a good, solid defender, at times can be a stopper on the court. (Wesley) Matthews, (Nicolas) Batum and Afflalo, that’s pretty good defense.”