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Heat coach Erik Spoelstra sees Kings’ change under George Karl

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra directs his team in the first half of play against the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Miami. Miami won the game 114-109.
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra directs his team in the first half of play against the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Miami. Miami won the game 114-109. (AP Photo/ Joe Skipper)

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the Kings do look different playing for George Karl.

Spoelstra only had an eight-game sample to evaluate before the Kings played the Heat on Saturday at American Airlines Arena. But he said the Kings are taking on Karl’s personality.

“It’s amazing,” Spoelstra said. “It’s uncanny how his teams, going all the way back to Seattle, will play with that pace and attack mentality. Since the All-Star break, their team is starting to shape up with that type of personality.”

Karl is still trying to figure out the best way for the Kings to attack.

“We are trying to figure out a balance of how much we should slow down and give DeMarcus (Cousins) the ball and how much we should play fast,” Karl said.

Karl does not want to predetermine how the Kings should play every night. He’d like the team to be a better passing team and cut down on turnovers regardless of the opponent.

He also realizes figuring that out against teams playing for playoff spots is not easy.

“You are playing a lot of teams tuned up, and this team has been going through NBA hell,” Karl said. “Some nights we are tuned; some nights we are a little faltering.”

The Heat is a “tuned” team, as it is now tied with Indiana for seventh in the Eastern Conference after beating the Kings 114-109 on Saturday.

“They’re aware of it, but we can’t obsess over it,” Spoelstra said. “We have to take care of our business. We understand the urgency right now.”

Finding the defense – The Kings entered Saturday having allowed back-to-back opponents to shoot more than 50 percent.

Karl said there is no one reason for that.

“San Antonio was a good team,” Karl said of Wednesday’s 112-85 loss. “We made too many offensive mistakes and gave them a lot of defensive points off our bad offense.”

What happened Friday against Orlando, a team not nearly as good as San Antonio, was about the Kings not playing with the necessary urgency to start the game. The Kings lost 119-114.

“(Friday) I thought was the least-focused my team came out defensively, and it took us till mid-third quarter before we got a feel how to make stops,” Karl said. “If we had won that game, it would have been more thievery than reality.”

Finding the three – Three-point shooting has been a struggle for the Kings most of the season, but they got off to a good start against the Heat.

Sacramento made six three-pointers in the first quarter, a season high for a quarter. The previous best was four.

The Kings made eight threes in the first half, a season high for a half, topping the previous best of seven.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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