The Kings are on their second extended trip under George Karl, beginning a four-game trek Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center.
Karl, however, hasn’t gotten over Sacramento’s eight-game trip earlier this month.
“I’m still depressed over the last trip because if we make a layup in Miami and we beat Orlando, it’s a pretty good trip,” Karl said. “Instead, we go 2-6 and we come home and get beat by two contenders (Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers).”
Karl took some blame for the last trip. Karl said more than once the Kings looked tired, especially at the end of the trip, when they blew big leads in the second half and lost to Philadelphia and Washington.
“I’m sure I made mistakes and played guys too long,” Karl said. “Sometimes when you play a guy a long stretch and he gets tired, sometimes (he) doesn’t regroup and I thought that happened in some of the games.”
After 19 games in his system, Karl believes the Kings are better conditioned for the running he demands to play at a fast pace. Karl said he notices fewer lulls in energy from his players.
The Kings will need stamina on this trip, which features teams among the leaders in the Western Conference (Memphis and Houston) and teams vying for the final playoff spot in the West (Phoenix and New Orleans).
Still loving it – Karl continued to rave about DeMarcus Cousins’ defense in Tuesday’s win over Philadelphia.
Cousins had four blocks and four steals. His last steal prevented the 76ers from taking a potential last-second winning shot.
Karl said it was one of the best games by a big man he’s coached.
“He was a defensive factor in almost every possession he was on the court in the second half,” Karl said. “He had difficult reads; pick-and-roll coverages come in different packages and different forms. And then his switchout on the last play, he was so big on the ball, the ball had no chance of finding the guy under the basket or of scoring. It was a dynamite defensive play.”
Karl said the Kings need to do better using Cousins’ skills on offense.
“We’ve got to get better at getting him better shots,” Karl said. “And I’ve got to get better at getting him better touches, and we’ve got to work together on offense.”