Kings coach George Karl believes the road is a great way for a team to get away from the distractions of home.
Technically, the Kings were the home team Thursday night at Mexico City Arena, but the building was overwhelmingly pro-Boston as the Kings lost to the Celtics 114-97 as part of NBA Global Games 2015.
Playing in Mexico is about promoting the NBA brand, but as Karl noted, the Kings are focused on the game “90 percent” of the time.
“We don’t have a lot of time to be tourists, but the treatment, the party (Wednesday) night all was first class,” Karl said. “We feel very comfortable here, and that’s really all you can ask for.”
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As for home-court advantage, Karl was under no illusions it would be a big-time Kings crowd.
“(Wednesday) night at the celebration, there were many more Boston Celtic hats, I thought,” Karl said before the game. “I think we realize the Celtics have great, great history, great, great tradition and great championships. ... It’s our home game, but I don’t think there are going to be a lot of Sacramento folks in the crowd.”
The game is part of what amounts to a three-game trip for the Kings. They play at Houston on Saturday and Oklahoma City on Sunday.
“It’s like another road game,” said forward Rudy Gay. “There’s a lot of places we have to be at the same time, a lot of events.”
Regardless of the result, the trip is just a small part of the season in which the Kings need to continue building chemistry after their 1-7 start.
The continuation of the trip is probably good for the Kings, if they are to continue bonding as Karl wants.
Last week, Karl had a productive meeting with DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo about how to best continue improving the Kings, who are 6-6 since last month’s team meeting. Karl said the dialogue is good for the overall health of the team.
“I think it’s beginning in a good way rather than a beginning of confrontation and antagonistic commentary,” Karl said. “The NBA is a process. It’s an 82-game marathon and what happens in the first 10 games usually doesn’t have a lot of credence in who you’ll become after 82 games.”
The extra responsibilities in the community and festivities made Mexico City unlike any other trip during the regular season, but it provided an opportunity for the Kings to become more cohesive without the distractions of home.
Karl said this time is critical for the Kings.
“Even though I coached 30 games last year, this (season) was probably the beginning of a connection,” Karl said. “In the NBA, it’s a challenge to get connected to your best players and also get connected to your whole team.”
That Cousins and Karl are working toward that connection is key, considering the offseason that featured their well-publicized feud.
“I respect DeMarcus because he wants to win,” Karl said. “He wants to change Sac; he wants to win in Sacramento. He wants to stay in Sacramento; I’m convinced of that.”
Their relationship is in a better place than it was Nov. 9, when Cousins lashed out after a loss to San Antonio dropped the Kings to 1-7.
Cousins later apologized, saying his anger was not at Karl, but at the Kings’ record.
“He got angry,” Karl said. “He got angry at the world, he got angry at me, and he probably got angry at himself. Over my 20 (plus) years in being in the league, it’s happened every year with someone, somehow, some way. A lot of times it doesn’t come out, and sometimes it does come out.”
But all is good since, Karl said.