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George Karl remains upbeat amid Kings’ recent struggles

Coach George Karl remains optimistic the Kings still can have a strong finish to the season, despite being mired in their worst stretch.

The Kings have lost four in a row and eight of nine, which led to speculation Karl’s job was in jeopardy. The veteran coach, however, was upbeat after shootaround Wednesday morning in preparation for a game against the 76ers. Karl met with general manager Vlade Divac Tuesday and was told there would not be a coaching change.

“I don’t think we’re in a bad spot other than we’re losing games,” Karl said. “Most of the teams that have beaten us have played well or or were very, very good teams.”

But three of the losses were to the Hornets, who were missing several players due to injury; to the Pelicans, who were without three starters; and to the Nets, the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference.

The recent stretch was preceded by a five-game winning streak, giving Karl hope the Kings can find the winning touch again.

“I love my world, and I try to stay in my world,” Karl said. “It’s exciting to me, and this team is still exciting to me. Ten days ago we had a winning month (8-7), I think for the second time in (DeMarcus Cousins’) run in the NBA, and we were in a good place.”

The Kings began January 8-3 before losing four in a row, starting with blowing a big lead at home to Charlotte.

The Kings (21-31) have fallen from eighth in the Western Conference to five games behind Houston for the final playoff spot.

Karl said his talk with Divac was similar to many he’s had this season.

“I don’t think it’s anything different,” Karl said. “Just the situation, frustration – everybody’s frustrated when you lose. I’m not going to go into the private conversations that we had. Talked about the team, talked about the trade deadline situation. We talked about going forward in a positive way, in a committed, connected way.”

Karl said he and Divac have been on the same page all season and he feels “good with Vlade.”

“I don’t think me and Vlade have had a disconnect other than we want to win more games than we’ve won,” Karl said.

The team’s bad defense was discussed.

“Our defense is my biggest concern, and our defense is where we have to figure some things out if we want to get back on a winning way,” Karl said.

The Kings allow a league-high 109.1 points and 10.7 three-pointers per game.

“The two areas we have trouble with are the two areas I think are evolving at a high level throughout the NBA,” Karl said. “That’s transition threes and offensive rebound threes.”

Karl said reports he soon would be fired don’t bother him and that his focus is on coaching.

“For me, it’s been basketball,” Karl said. “My world is basketball. All the other stuff is their world and fortunately I’m at a stage in my life where that’s not at a very high level of importance to me.”

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Karl, 64, said earlier in his career the reports would have bothered him.

“I think when you’re younger, you’re always a little more into what people are saying or thinking, but as you get older you learn you have no control over it,” Karl said. “You can do your job perfectly ... if you don’t win and you don’t fulfill expectations, you’re going to be criticized. When you sign the contract that’s the job you’re signing up for.”

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

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  • When: Wednesday, 4 p.m.
  • Opponent: at Philadelphia
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