Practice notes and quotes: December 12

Cousins-Grainy

The media ran into a familiar face on the practice floor Friday. No, that’s not a grainy still of Big Foot wandering through a dark forest.  It’s the franchise on the mend.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the Sacramento Kings’ last eight games with viral meningitis, occupied half a court on the far side of the gym. He worked with assistant coach Corliss Williamson, as he took midrange jumpers from different spots on the baseline and elbow and even threw down a dunk. Cousins stayed on the floor to shoot free throws as the rest of the team went into the locker room.

Head coach Michael Malone disclosed that his center is practicing individually and hopes to rejoin the Kings for full contact drills next week. Malone speculated that Cousins has lost “eight to 10″ pounds, and is still taking things slowly.

In addition to Malone, Derrick Williams addressed reporters today.

Coaches Notes and Quotes

  • Michael Malone on coming back from tough losses: “Well I know I can’t speak for the players. I know for me, it’s tough, really tough. When you go home and you feel that those are games that you should win. The Laker game and the Houston game, back to back losses where we controlled it, and you feel that you’ve given the game away. The first thing I always do is when I watch film is (ask) what could I have done differently, how could I have helped them more? But the reality is, and we spent a lot of time this morning watching film and talking about it, is we’ve lost 12 games and in our losses we’ve given up 22 points on our turnovers. We’re up five with a minute to go in the game last night. We give up a very big offensive rebound to Trevor Ariza, and then we have a three-point lead and we let James Harden shoot a 3, instead of pressing up, and we’ll live with a made two. So we always play the games back, and I know for a coach, I grew up the son of a coach, you remember the losses a lot more than you do the wins. The losses stay with you. And these last two nights, last two games haven’t been a lot of fun, and it consumes me, I know it does. I can’t speak for these guys, but it consumes me, and it’s also motivation to help these guys, help myself to become better. Because the reality is this, we’re going to be in that situation again. Especially without DeMarcus, the talent level that we have, we’re not going to blow a lot of teams out. The defense has been great, but the lack of execution, and the turnovers at times have been very, very costly, as well some very big offensive rebounds that we’ve allowed in the last two games.”
  • Michael Malone on slowing down superstars: “We have a choice to make. You can say, we’re going to let James Harden get his and try to maintain everybody else, or you can obviously put two on the ball, you know if you start trapping. The first half against the Lakers, Kobe was held in check because we just double-teamed off of Ronnie Price, and we said, okay somebody is going to beat us, we’re going to make it be another guy on the floor. Scary thing with Houston is they shot 44 3’s last night. Such a big part of their offensive philosophy. You start putting two on the ball, you obviously get it out of his hands, but now does Troy Daniels, Trevor Ariza, Jason Terry, do they all of a sudden start getting uncontested looks at the rim. So it’s that fine line where you have to pick and choose, but during the game and right after the game before I watched the film, I thought it was our pick and roll coverage that really hurt us. But it really wasn’t, it was more one on one defense, and he’s a terrific talent, and he obviously really got it going, he got to the foul line, he took over fourth quarter and overtime, but that’s the choice you make. You play guys straight up, and live with tough shots, or start double-teaming which may open up another can of worms.”
  • Michael Malone on turnovers: “Go back to game one. We played the Warriors tough at home on opening night. 27 turnovers, 26 points. So it’s been a recurring theme to the season in our losses and our turnovers. Some of it is us playing small. Last night I think our turnovers can be generally put into different categories. Lack of spacing, maybe that’s to your point, guys not knowing where to be. We’re playing small, where do I go, we have poor spacing at times. We have a lack of purpose at times on offense. We don’t cut to score, we have a very slow pace about ourselves. We don’t set great screens. We don’t set our men up to use the screen. And then some of them are just bad decisions, feeding the post. We turned the ball over two, three times last night trying to get the ball into the post. We have a three-on-one break in the last six minutes of the game, and we don’t get a shot off. So we watched it, we watched all of our turnovers, and then we came on the court and tried to work on spacing when we’re big and spacing when we’re small. A go-to package when we’re big, and a go-to package when we’re small, just so we can execute and get a shot off every possession, to give ourselves a chance.”
  • Michael Malone on trusting his players: “I believe, and I worked with Mike Brown, trust is a word, but you have to show trust in your players. You have to ask for their input and feedback. What do you see out there? What do you like? The play we ran to end the game last night to give Rudy the shot, I went with that play because I talked to Rudy after shoot around. ‘Hey, I keep on putting you on the wing to give you a right hand on the right side of the floor. What do you want?’ He said, ‘Well give me the ball up top so I can have a little bit more room to operate.’ And so we talked about having a high pick and roll, slip the guy out, give him a lane to his right hand, and again we set a flare screen with Ben (McLemore) on the backside, so Ben was open, and Rudy, you’re not going to get a better shot than that. An uncontested pull-up two that goes in and out. So I’ll talk to these guys, give them feedback. It’s always about trusting each other and trying to find out the best way to execute offensively and defensively, so I’ll talk to them as well as the coaches.”

Players Notes and Quotes

  • Derrick Williams on the toll of close losses: “Not too much. We don’t want to be too hard on ourselves. I think we know that we beat ourselves with our turnovers. Most of the time, it’s not really them actually beating us like that. So we just (have) to cut down on our turnovers and not beat ourselves.”
  • Derrick Williams on his undefined role: “Just staying ready. No matter how many minutes I play I’m going to be ready no matter what. Whether it be five minutes, 30 minutes. I’m just here to play basketball. I’m not really looking into how many minutes I’m playing. So like I said, I’m just staying ready and taking advantage of the opportunity.”
  • Derrick Williams on hard work paying off: “It’s great. Like I said earlier this year, I’ve put in a lot of work this summer, coaches coming out and seeing me too. Pete, coach Malone, all the coaches come out to watch me work out multiple times so I know that really helps a lot. And you know early on, it’s a long season. It’s 82 games. The first 10 games or so didn’t go my way but (I’m) just hanging in there and staying with it. All the extra work I put in before and after practice really shows.”
  • Derrick Williams on seeing DeMarcus Cousins back at the practice facility: “It is (encouraging). We all think that we need him back. It’s hard to replace 25, or however many points he averages, 25 and 12. Like I said, it’s hard to replace that. Just a dominant force he is down low. We need him on the post, rebounding as well. But injuries, sickness, all that happens in the NBA. So hopefully we get him back sooner than what they say. I think right now it might be a few games or so. But we all have his back. It is what it is, but I think he wants to be back as well.”
  • Derrick Williams on his approach: “I look and see the matchups, the different matchups. Most of the time, they’re going to have their best defender on Rudy. And with Cuz (Cousins) out, most of the time they double-team, and it kind of leaves the weak side open a lot for myself, Ben to knock down shots. We (have) to be ready, and coming off the bench whether it be the three or the four, I think coach has put me in a good position to succeed. Like I said, if I have small threes on me, I’m going to the post. If I have bigger fours, take them off the dribble a little bit and get to the hoop and try to get fouled. The guys in the locker room, they want me to attack. As soon as I get it, they want me to come in and get to the basket and knock down shots, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
  • Derrick Williams on guarding Kobe Bryant and James Harden: “It’s tough, man. They have the green light. You know whenever you have a guy, you’re guarding a player that has a green light that can pretty much shoot whenever they want to, it get’s tough, man. But I think it just shows the confidence he (Malone) has in myself and being able to guard two or three positions out there, a couple nights ago guarding Kobe, Nick Young, and then last night James Harden, Ariza, Jason Terry. It’s really just getting out there and locking down on defense. I think when I do that, I increase my intensity and energy level, good things happen.”
  • The Kings reassigned power forward Eric Moreland to the Reno Bighorns for the fourth time this season. The 22-year-old rookie has made two regular season appearances recording two total minutes.

Sacramento will have a shoot around tomorrow morning before playing the Detroit Pistons at Sleep Train Arena at 7 p.m.

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About: Rui Thomas

Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.