Sacramento Kings to embark on longest road trip of the season
Following last night’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans, there was just one word printed on the white board in the Sacramento Kings’ locker room. In bold and capitalized red ink, “PASSPORTS ” was scribbled on the far right side of the board. They’ll be essential for the Kings as they take off later today for their longest road trip of the season.
The Kings will be away for almost two weeks and will play seven games, mostly against Eastern Conference competition. They begin tomorrow night with a match-up against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“The biggest thing on this road trip is we need to come out every night with energy,” Kings starting center DeMarcus Cousins said Monday evening. “We have to throw the first punch every night and defend at a high level. With those two things, we have a good chance.”
Michael Malone, meanwhile, is mainly looking for one thing out of his team during this trip. The Kings head coach just wants to see his team play with the same level of consistency each night. He noted that they took a step back from the progress they’ve made in the new year in losses last week to the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. However, he has seen improvement in their previous two outings against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Pelicans.
“Starting off against Milwaukee, can we defend at a high level over the next seven games?” Malone said following last night’s win over the Pelicans. “And on the road, if we continue to turn the ball over, you can’t win on the road like that. (So I want to see) sustained defensive effort and valuing the basketball at a much higher level.”
The first-year head coach also isn’t planning on basing the Kings’ success on this trip on wins and losses . He doesn’t want his team to get ahead of themselves when it comes to preparing for their next seven opponents.
“It’s a very long road trip,” Malone said. “Thirteen (days), seven games, so we’re gonna take it one game at a time and put all of our energy and effort into beating the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.”
The Toronto Raptors are one of the teams the Kings will visit during this seven-game trip (hence the need for passports). It will be the first time that Aaron Gray, Quincy Acy and Rudy Gay travel north of the border since being traded from the Raptors in early December.
“Just another game,” Gay said last night when asked if he’s looking forward to his first visit back to Ontario. “Just another game.”
In addition to the Raptors and Bucks, the Kings will also travel to Philadelphia, Detroit and Minneapolis. They’ll also visit old friends in their new homes, beginning with Marcus Thornton in Brooklyn on Mar. 9 followed by Jimmer Fredette in Chicago on Mar. 15.
The road has not been kind the Kings this season. In 28 games away from Sleep Train Arena, they’ve posted a meager 8-20 record. They are also just 2-7 in road games played against the Eastern Conference this year.