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Kings shorten shot clock in practice to pick up tempo

Video: Willie Cauley-Stein catches DeMarcus Cousins on his weak side

Willie Cauley-Stein catches DeMarcus Cousins on his weak side and blocks his shot during second day of training camp.
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Willie Cauley-Stein catches DeMarcus Cousins on his weak side and blocks his shot during second day of training camp.

The Kings are learning how to run their offense without violating an 18-second shot clock.

That’s right, 18.

Coach George Karl has the Kings scrimmaging with a shot clock six seconds shorter than the normal 24 to promote a faster tempo.

“It’s going to get shorter some day here,” Karl said after Wednesday’s practice at UC San Diego. “It’ll be at 14 one day. The whole thing is to speed them up because they’ve got to learn how to not make mistakes playing fast.”

Karl believes playing faster makes the game easier. But it’s a challenge to teach players there’s a difference between playing fast and playing careless. He credits legendary former Denver coach Doug Moe as “probably the first” to show him the benefits of shortening the shot clock in practice. Moe’s Denver teams were among the NBA’s highest-scoring squads of the 1980s.

“It’s hard to do just saying, ‘Don’t make mistakes’ because they’re going to make mistakes,” Karl said. “But they’ll learn to play with some pace and (make) good decisions.”

After two days at training camp, Karl said good habits will be practiced until they’re ingrained. And the shot clock will not return to 24 seconds in practice anytime soon.

“Today we were throwing it all over the place,” Karl said. “It’s probably going to be that way until the middle of October.”

Looking ahead – The Kings play four preseason games in six days starting Monday at Portland. Their final preseason game is Oct. 17 against New Orleans at the University of Kentucky, where DeMarcus Cousins and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein played college ball.

The Kings open the regular season against the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 28 at Sleep Train Arena.

With 10 days between the final preseason game and start of the regular season, Karl likes having time to prepare for what he expects to be a challenging start to the season.

“We probably don’t have a tougher stretch in our schedule than the first 10 games,” Karl said. “If there is, I don’t want to see it because we play every good team in the West and a couple of good teams in the East. They’re all on our home court, so we need the home fans to help us win some games, and we need to be ready to go because we’ve got some great teams going against us.”

Six of the first 10 games are against 2015 Western Conference playoff teams, including the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

Early impressions – Karl said guard Darren Collison and center Kosta Koufoshave been impressive. Collison did not play for Karl, who was hired in February, because he was injured last season. Koufos played for Karl in Denver, and the coach said he is an improved player in the two years since they were together.

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

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