When the Houston Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, dropping the Kings further behind in the Western Conference playoff race, George Karl tried to wash away the bitterness.
“I was disappointed (Sunday) night,” the Kings’ coach said. “I drank an extra beer after Houston won. But we have to stay focused. We have control of what we can do.”
Entering Monday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Kings were 25-36, five games behind Houston for the eighth playoff spot in the West. They believe they have enough time to make up ground in the standings.
“I think the month of March is a good schedule for us,” Karl said. “It’s a difficult schedule because we’re on the road a lot, but they’re winnable games.”
The Kings have only one more game against a top-four team from the West, a home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 9.
After the Kings host the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, seven of their next nine games are against teams with losing records.
“We just got done with probably one of the most difficult stretches (going 5-13 entering Monday), and now we’ve got to take advantage,” Karl said. “We can’t control what Houston, Utah, Dallas, Portland and whoever else is going to do. All we can do, like golf, is try to put a good number on the board. If they beat it, they beat it.”
Still searching – More than 60 games into the season, the Kings’ rotation still has some uncertainty.
Karl hopes that instability motivates his reserves.
“As you all know, we start a game at two positions not really knowing how we’re going to end the game,” Karl said, referring to shooting guard and power forward. “There’s always two positions up to grab. Maybe that’s not the best way, but that’s the way this season’s played out. In a lot of ways, I think the bench knows that and they’re energized to play.”
Darren Collison has been the most consistent bench player this season, so he often finishes games at guard.
Taking a break – Karl has tried to maximize whatever practice time remains this season. But mechanical issues delayed the Kings’ charter flight from San Antonio to New Orleans on Saturday night and forced Karl to call an audible.
The team didn’t get settled at its hotel until about 4 a.m. Sunday, so Karl scrapped plans for a formal practice to allow players to rest. But he said several players worked out later in the day.
“I was disappointed,” Karl said. “We didn’t a lot of X-and-O stuff, but we had a good workout (Sunday), late afternoon that was voluntary and I think 10 guys made it. Sometimes you’ve got to bring the fun to the game and because of the schedule, we tried to bring some fun to the practice.”