Before the question was finished being asked, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins had the answer.
“Get back,” Cousins said. “Get back and guard when they cross halfcourt.”
Cousins was asked what the Kings can do to slow the Golden State Warriors, who averaged 127 points in the past two games against the Kings in Oakland.
When the Kings host the Western Conference-leading Warriors on Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena, they’ll be out to prove they can play the Warriors without setting defensive worsts for the season.
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In a 128-108 loss on Dec. 22, the Kings allowed a season-high for points in regulation and the most made field goals (49), highest shooting percentage (.538), most assists (36) and most points in the paint (66).
And a 126-101 loss on Jan. 23 was the widest margin in defeat for the Kings this season.
In that loss, Warriors guard Klay Thompson scored an NBA-record 37 points in a quarter on his way to a career-high 52 points. That’s also the most points given up to an individual by the Kings this season.
“Well, we can’t have a guy scoring 37 or 41 points in a quarter,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We’ve got to control the tempo of the game. We’ve got to understand where their shooters are and make them work for everything they get.”
Perhaps the Kings can learn from some recent games. The Warriors lost two games last week, to Chicago and at Utah, which qualifies as a slump for Golden State this season.
“They slowed the game a little bit, they attacked them inside and made them play against their bigs,” Corbin said. “You have to control the tempo of the game against these guys. Win the ... paint battle against them, not let them go crazy from the three-point line, to have a chance against them.”
That would mean attacking with Cousins, who is averaging 23.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in three games against the Warriors. It also could mean using Carl Landry off the bench as a post-up option and trying to create shots at the rim by driving to the basket.
The Kings, however, still are trying to figure out how to control tempo. There are times when they try to play faster but play out of control by taking quick shots and not passing.
When the offense slows, the Kings sometimes look lost with players staring at the player with the ball and not doing enough to create rhythm.
If the Kings, who ended their season-long eight-game losing streak Saturday at Indiana, beat the Warriors, it will be perhaps their best win of the season.
With the playoffs out of reach, beating the Warriors could be the start to better results the rest of the season.
“We’re still trying to get over the hump,” Cousins said. “We’re still trying to find our mojo. We still have time to make things right, end on a good note. So that’s really what it’s about.”