It will not be the standard meaningless preseason finale for the Kings against the Los Angeles Lakers on Fridayin Las Vegas.
Such is the case when a team that’s looking to become more efficient on offense is piling up turnovers.
The turnovers have Kings coach Michael Malone approaching the game as if it counts in the standings before Wednesday’s regular-season opener against the Golden State Warriors at Sleep Train Arena.
“We just can’t snap our fingers and say ‘Golden State’s here, let’s play the right way, let’s value the basketball,’” Malone said. “We can’t fool ourselves; (the start of the season is) rapidly approaching.”
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While the Lakers will rest their star, Kobe Bryant, the Kings will try to fix a problem that hasn’t gone away during exhibition play. The Kings are averaging 21.3 turnovers in six preseason games. The primary issues have been players trying to do too much and dribbling into problems.
The mistakes also are hurting the Kings’ attempts to improve defensively. Sacramento is giving up 18 points per game off turnovers in the preseason.
“To start the game, it’s 18 to zero,” Malone said. “We’re giving teams an 18-point advantage every single night, and we can’t continue to do that.”
Center DeMarcus Cousins is averaging an alarming 6.2 turnovers in the preseason with 19 in the past two games. Five of Cousins’ 10 turnovers Monday against San Antonio came on offensive fouls.
Cousins is frustrated with himself and the turnover problems. He called his nine-turnover game last Saturday “horrible” and was not pleased Monday.
“That’s never happened to me before,” Cousins said. “I almost fouled out on offensive fouls.”
Malone does not want Cousins leading the team in turnovers but is willing to accept some if they come because of Cousins’ effort to get in the paint early by running the floor.
“When he rebounds the ball and he tries to dribble up the floor and go between his legs and he turns it over, that is a turnover we can’t have,” Malone said.
Malone wants Cousins to be aggressive but also adjust to how teams will defend him.
“When he’s running the floor and establishing deep post position and he catches it and they are collapsing on him, and he tries to make a move and somebody falls down and they call it a charge,” Malone said. “Do you like the fact that we lost a possession? No. But you’re pretty happy that your big man is running the floor and establishing low post position. You’ve got to read it, slow down and take what they’re giving him. If they’re collapsing, kick it out.”
Problems were expected as several new players learned how to play together, but the trend is still cause for concern.
“It’s preseason, it’s early in the season, you’re going to have turnovers,” Cousins said. “But at the rate we’re going with turnovers, it’s not good. We should be decreasing with each game and getting better at taking care of the ball, and we’re just being consistent at turning over the ball. We have to get better at taking care of the ball.”