Kings Win! Kings Win!
Should I have stayed in the media room and diligently posted the notes and quotes from last night’s victory or enjoyed the evening since these wins have become oh so precious? I chose to enjoy the win and make all 16 of you wait for the goods from both the coaches press conference and the locker room chats.
Coaches Notes and Quotes
- Coach Westphal’s opening statement: “It definitely feels good to get a win. I thought we played defense real well pretty much the whole game. Made shots and we really got an injection of energy from Pooh Jeter. I thought that we had a lot of really good performances, but he was the standout above the rest because of how he got us running at both ends. We had a nice lead and then he came in and just upped it and put the game away. It was really nice to see Jason Thompson play like we know he can play and Beno was making shots again and making good decisions. Good performances from Omri, Jackson and Donté, but I was just particularly happy about Pooh. That’s two games in a row where he’s had a very big impact on the game and it’s fun to play out there like that.”
- On the lopsided victory against the Wizards: “You can’t get too carried away about one game, but it sure does feel a lot better than those losses. We feel like we’ve been getting better, and when we’ve had chances to win in the last two minutes and had leads in the last two minutes, but there’s nothing like a win. It validates the fact that we are showing improvement and that we have a good group of guys. I really like coaching these guys and I like what the future can hold.”
- On Jason Thompson finding some consistency: “Obviously what everybody knows, including Jason, is that you have to stay in the game to have that kind of impact. When you eliminate being in foul trouble all the time, you give yourself the chance to let your talent take over. We know he can shoot the ball – he’s not going to shoot 10 out of 15 all the time. He’s a good shooter and an excellent rebounder and he’s another guy like Pooh who never gets tired. His motor is one of the best in the league so the uptempo game suits him when we get out and run like that. If he can stay in the game, he can have a lot of good games.”
- On why Pooh Jeter now: “There is never any one moment where some guy wasn’t good enough one day and the next day he was good enough. Pooh’s been working hard all the time. We thought that he could help us when we signed him. He struggled a little bit early defensively and we tried some other players. He stayed ready and when he got his chance again- we tell all of our players, sometimes you are out of the rotation for a while, but when you get your chance, be ready. Pooh is one of the best examples of that, so when he got his chance he was ready and he’s showing he’s going to be a hard guy to get out of the line-up.”
- On Tyreke Evans’ injury issues: “He obviously isn’t the same player he was last year and it’s not because the league has figured him out. He’s battling this plantar fasciitis, which has varying degrees of painfulness. A bad case incapacitates you. A more or less mild case let’s you deal with it and probably takes away some explosiveness, but you’re paid to play and if you’re not going to damage yourself anymore, and you can play at a high level, then you play. Now how can you tell that before a game? You can’t, but he’s got a diagnosis that they think is treatable and they think he can play. He was moving pretty well tonight, but we know Tyreke Evans has more explosiveness than he’s shown, but he’s also a tough professional who plays when he can.”
- On the limited minutes of Carl Landry, who limped off the court during the game: “He banged knees. We’ll see what kind of swelling he has and how it is tomorrow. “
On Omri Casspi’s defensive game coming around after he recorded six steals against the Wizards: “I think Omri has certainly been playing the best defense of his career over the last several games and I think he is understanding defensive schemes a lot better than he did last year or even earlier this year. He’s maintained a terrific attitude through everything and he’s another guy who’s been ready to play and has worked hard to improve his weakness, as has Donté. Both of the guys have done a nice job this year of growing and beginning to be the players we hope and believe they can be.”
Here are some of the player quotes from inside the locker room. The team was in a good mood after ending the losing streak. Different players than usual were the focus because of their stellar play. The first stop was with the always respectful and positive Pooh Jeter.
- Pooh on the uptempo style of play that he brings to a game: “I think that’s what we want to do. We are a young team that’s ready to run and we need to continue to work on things like taking the ball out a little faster so then we can really run. I’m excited about our game tonight. We did a great job.”
- Pooh on the defensive pressure he’s been bringing: “That’s my job. I have to pick them up full-court. If I do that, the team will respond to that.”
- At this moment in the conversation, Darnell Jackson made a joke about the crowd surrounding Jeter and he stopped with a big smile and responded to the audience: “Not to cut you off, but…this is like…I remember seeing everybody at Tyreke’s locker and this and that, but this is like…God is good. We are feeding off the energy and we are moving the ball, sharing the job, which is great so we did a great job tonight.”
- Jason Thompson on breaking the losing streak: “It feels good. We had a full team effort, all 48 minutes. It’s something we haven’t experienced in a while and it’s good to get that off our backs.”
- On his huge ally-oop dunk: “That felt good. When things are going well and we are getting stops and rebounds and pushing the ball, that is when we are at our best.”
- On Pooh Jeter: “His energy. They say you can’t teach height, but for him, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve seen the guys that are short in this league that have been effective – the AI’s, the Danna Barros’, the Mugsey Bogues’. Even though they’re short, they’re still effective and he just brings a different energy to this team that we haven’t had.”
- On knowing that he had a chance to play major minutes with the loss of Samuel Dalambert: “It was good. I think I got into a good rhythm. Not knowing when I came out late in the third, when I was going to come back in the fourth, and Cuz got into foul trouble and Coach put me in and if Sam was here, he would have been in there. It was good to not get out of rhythm and keep it going.”
A lot of the guys were giddy to get out the door, which is understandable after such a prolonged losing streak. On a side note, the Kings media relations department was nice enough to seat me in the lower level behind the Wizards bench for the game, which was a treat. Since John Wall didn’t get to play, I was able to stare awkwardly at the back of his head for at least two straight quarters.
The Wizards are a team in flux with a lot of injuries, but for this Kings team, a win is a win. With the strong play of Pooh Jeter, the Kings were able to limit Tyreke Evans to only 26 minutes of play. Add in treatment and a few more days of rest and Evans might start to turn the corner on his injured left foot.
Next up, the Kings get the red hot Miami Heat. Just the side show atmosphere alone should be worth the price of admission.