Perhaps going on the road is what the Kings need to discover their focus and drive because they’ve shown being at home is no guarantee they’ll be at their best.
The momentum the Kings hoped to build during a six-game homestand did not materialize as they continued to deal with injuries and inconsistent play. They went 2-4 on the homestand, losing the last three games.
DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Carl Landry and Omri Casspi missed games during the homestand, which left the Kings 10-14 at home.
The Kings play six of their next seven games on the road starting Monday night against Portland. Regardless of the venue, the Kings need to find continuity and steady effort to begin playing well again. They are 5-12 in their past 17 games.
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“It’s the league, and unfortunately when we’ve had these stretches (at home), we haven’t been 100 percent with everybody on the floor to gain any rhythm,” coach Tyrone Corbin said.
The Kings used three different starting lineups in their past three games. One wrinkle in Saturday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers was Rudy Gay coming off the bench. He missed Friday’s loss to Miami because of a strained left knee and was a late arrival for the Clippers game after attending a funeral in Connecticut on Saturday morning.
“I flew in right before tipoff,” Gay said. “I always planned to play. I just didn’t know what time I was going to get in.”
Gay scored 22 points, and he should be back in the starting lineup against the Trail Blazers.
If Cousins (sprained ankle) and Landry (sprained right wrist) remain out or limited, the problems from the homestand won’t simply go away. Still, the Kings must figure out how to play with consistent energy and focus regardless of who is in the lineup.
“It’s extremely difficult – it seems like we’ve been dealing with something like that all season long,” Darren Collison said. “But it’s the NBA, and you can’t make excuses.
“It’s something that we’ve been dealing with, and it has affected us. But like I said, if we just come out playing hard, we can be just happy with that.”
With the injuries and fluctuations that come with an in-season coaching change, the Kings haven’t looked like the team that began the season 9-5 for a long time. Corbin is looking for something to build on, and after Saturday’s loss, he pointed to the effort Collison mentioned.
Corbin said “this team has already been through a lot this year,” so regardless of the injuries and other circumstances, he wants the effort he saw against the Clippers.
“One of the toughest things for any coach to do is to have to coach guys to play hard,” Corbin said. “If you get guys to play hard every night, then it allows you to make adjustments and do different things when you are getting that energy ... I just want to make sure that we do this more.”
That’s all Collison wants, too. He was frustrated when the team’s effort lagged.
“Regardless of what the score is, just come out and just play hard,” Collison said. “There are some games where we didn’t necessarily play hard, and that was bothering me, so I was glad that we came out with this effort (Saturday).”