Practice Update November 24th.
Because today was a travel day, the Kings post practice session was limited, with most players leaving quickly to prepare for the afternoon flight to Los Angeles. Here are today’s notes and quotes with a fun little video of a post practice big man shooting contest.
Coaches Notes and Quotes:
- Paul Westphal on the tone of today’s practice: “We didn’t scrimmage, but I thought it was a real intense day as far as concentration and progress went, so it was a good day.”
- On having to play on Thanksgiving: “We are going to try and ruin the Clippers’ Thanksgiving in order to make our Thanksgiving real nice (laughing).”
- On Blake Griffin: “He is one of the most astoundingly athletic players to come into this league in a long time. He knocks you back a little bit when you see some of the things he can do sometimes. He is a hard working, talented player and he is going to have a great career.”
- On the mood of the team after back-to-back losses on back-to-back days against the Hornets and Jazz: “I think the mood is good. We are certainly frustrated and we are frustrated because we know we can play better. We are also encouraged because we are showing that we can be a team that can count on its defense and if that continues, we can work through our offensive wrinkles. We are frustratingly encouraged.”
- On trying to find a balance between offense and defense: “That’s always the struggle in basketball. You can never win a game with scoring, that’s for sure. You’re never going to pitch a shutout. Certainly you just can’t go out and outscore people and ignore defense. There is definitely a balance and we’re trying to find that. I know one thing, teams don’t fulfill their potential without being good defensive teams and we want to make sure that we at least have that we can say about ourselves.”
- On how difficult it is to change his coaching philosophy from the high octane offensive teams like the Suns and Sonics to the methodical offense that we are seeing of late with the Kings: “I’m not really changing, we still want to get easy baskets. I think that my coaching philosophy has always been to find whatever your strengths are and play to your strengths and try to minimize your weaknesses. That always looks a little different depending on who your personnel is. We’re going to get there offensively and certainly we aren’t there defensively. We just see some signs that we can be a good defensive team and we want to keep building on that.”
- On specific adjustments that might be made offensively: “There are a few tweaks, but we have all the plays we need, we just need to execute them better. That’s what we spent time on today, reviewing our offense and trying to make sure our players understand where to be and why and what they are supposed to do. You would be amazed at how much you think players know about what they’re supposed to be doing and there is a little slippage. So it was a good day today to kind of remind everybody why we are doing what we are doing and what it’s supposed to look like. I thought they were really focused and intense about making the tweaks that we are trying show up on the floor.”
During and following Coach Westphal’s media discussion, Coach Truck Robinson was having four of the Kings’ big men compete in shooting drills as teams. He pitted rookie Hassan Whiteside and Jason Thompson against veterans Darnell Jackson and Samuel Dalembert. Here is some video of that competition.
Jackson and Dalembert won in a best two out of three battle. If nothing else, this video shows that the team is loose and that they still enjoy a little competition, even if they have lost eight of nine.
Carl Landry hung around for a few of us media types to talk turkey…literally. This is what the the Kings starting power forward had to say about playing on Thanksgiving:
- Carl Landry on playing the Clippers Thursday night: “It’s a big day, not only for basketball because everybody will be watching, but it’s Thanksgiving so it’s a big day and a big game for us. We really need it. The Clippers have been playing pretty good, but their record doesn’t show it. We definitely need to go there and be focused so we can get this win, because it’s pretty much a must win for us.”
- On having to miss family to play NBA games on Thanksgiving and other holidays: “It’s tough you know. It was definitely tougher my rookie and second year in the league because I’m a family man and I like being around my family as much as possible, so it was tough for me to be away from my family and those I love the most. It’s tough, but you have to learn how to adapt to it because this is your dream job that you’ve dreamed about since you were five, six, seven years old. So you have to be professional about it and just take it.”
- On keeping Blake Griffin off the glass: “You just have to box him out. If you can’t box him out in the regular way, just try to put two forearms on him and face guard him and face box him out. He’s a tough guy who’s having a tremendous season right now.”
- On how to avoid getting your face put on the next Blake Griffin poster: “Everybody gets dunked on. It’s the NBA, so you just have to be in a defensive stance, block him out and just try not to get dunked on I guess.”
The Kings take on the Clippers at 7:30 Thanksgiving night so tune in, it should be a dandy. Blake Griffin has been everything the Clippers thought he would be when they selected him number one overall last season. If the Kings want to beat the lowly Clippers, they need to put a body on Griffin and keep the crowd out of the game. It will be a nice test for the Kings, but a winnable contest, especially if they play the same quality of defense they have been playing over the last week.