Kings Blog

Kings notes: George Karl searching for right ‘scam’ to improve perimeter defense

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks puts up a shot as Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) defends during an NBA basketball game on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks puts up a shot as Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) defends during an NBA basketball game on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Sometimes, a slip of the tongue can provide truth and comedy.

Such was the case with Kings coach George Karl when he was asked about the defense played by his guards, Rajon Rondo in particular.

“We’ve got to hang together, and our players have got to get more presence, and we’ve got to come with a scam,” Karl said.

Scam?

“A scheme,” Karl continued with a grin. “Well, maybe a scam, some type of scheme that’s comfortable for everybody.”

If there was a scam that worked, Karl probably would be open to it. Karl and the coaching staff have been trying to figure out how to improve the defense, especially on the perimeter.

“If I had to point a finger, I’d be more mad at my guards and our perimeter guys for not committing to more presence and more pride in controlling the ball,” Karl said. “Now it’s become the most difficult thing in the NBA where more and more teams are going to an attack/drive mentality.”

When the Kings have had DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein available, Karl has been been fine with their defense in the frontcourt.

The perimeter defense leaves much to be desired as the Kings routinely give up big games to opposing guards and wing players like Brandon Rush, the seldom-used Golden State swingman who scored 14 points in a quarter against the Kings on Saturday.

“Our big guys, if I had to give them a grade, I’ve give them a B, B-plus, and my backcourt, I don’t know if I’d give them a grade right now,” Karl said. “I’d give them an incomplete.”

Travel plans – The Kings leave Tuesday for a three-game trip that begins Thursday against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City.

Sacramento will be the home team against the Celtics.

Karl said he’d already informed the team that Tuesday would be more than just a travel day.

“We’re going to practice (Tuesday) morning, win or lose,” Karl said.

Karl said the Kings need as much practice as possible. The team will practice Wednesday in Mexico and might have a light practice Friday in Houston before playing the Rockets on Saturday. Karl said “it’s crazy” that the NBA schedule does not allow for more practice time during the season, so he does his best to get work in while also trying to give the players some rest.

The trip ends Sunday at Oklahoma City.

“You monitor the fatigue as you watch your team play,” Karl said. “You don’t monitor it ahead of time. You don’t know how the travel is going to affect you.”

Carlisle’s takes – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said before Monday’s game against the Kings at Sleep Train Arena that Rondo’s season is no shock.

Rondo struggled after being traded to Dallas from Boston last season.

When asked if he has been surprised by Rondo’s play, Carlisle said: “No, not at all. He was going to have a great year this year. They’ve put the right kind of team around him, and he’s having a monster year, and he’ll just get better and better.”

Carlisle also was not surprised that Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman would have a positive impact because she’s been a “(butt) kicker” at everything she’s done. Lieberman has ties to Dallas, having coached of the Mavericks’ NBA Development League team in 2009.

Carlisle said he’d consider a woman for his staff, too. He said former Sacramento Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek was with the Mavericks during training camp last year.

“She was with us for a month,” Carlisle said. “She’s a great prospect for the NBA.”

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

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