The Sacramento Kings moved back to one game over .500 (11-10) Monday when they defeated the Utah Jazz 101-92 at home. Following the game, head coach Michael Malone and several Kings players told reporters what they thought went right (defense and Nik Stauskas) and what went wrong (fast-break points allowed), as well as how they prepare for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night.
What Went Right
Malone: "There are going to be nights where you struggle to make shots, but if you can get stops on a consistent basis, you'll be able to hang around and we were able to do that and, obviously, we got going in the fourth quarter a little bit tonight to score 33 points. So great defensive effort, that's just another example of when you win, we defend. And I was really happy to see Nik Stauskas kind of become a man in the NBA tonight. He grew up tonight: 15 points, 8 rebounds and you saw him becoming more and more aggressive as he saw the ball go in and I think that's all he needs is just that little bit of confidence to get him going."
Rudy Gay: "We played great defense on them. The first quarter they scored at will, the rest of the game I feel like we played great defense so I think that is something we can take out of this game and build on that."
Carl Landry: "We stayed the course. Over the last few games, we get into situations where we have the lead and late in the fourth quarter, we find some way to give it up and we stayed the course today. Even when the Jazz got back in the game, we did what it took to finish."
Jason Thompson: "Started off the game a little slow with getting stops, they shot a high percentage. We adjusted, the NBA is a game of runs, it was going back and forth, but the team we are capable of being was the team in the second half - getting more stops, moving the ball and getting a W."
What Went Wrong
Stauskas: "They got a lot of fast-break points. I think they got 29 of them, so that's definitely an area that we probably have to clean up."
Malone: "We can talk about guarding Gordon Hayward or [Enes] Kanter or [Derrick] Favors, [Alec] Burks in the half court, but when the shot goes up, get back. And you heard me all night long imploring, begging, pleading whatever you want to call it, but we didn't do it. And I told our guys, we'll take the win, we held them 40.5 [percent] from the field, but 29 fast break points is unacceptable."
Landry: "We can't have fast break points … and that comes from shot selection sometimes. A bad shot turns into bad defense. So we have got to do a better job of continuing to move the ball, take good shots and get back in transition when the shot goes up.
Thompson: "We can limit our fouls, they got in the penalty really early. At that point it was like 5-1 early in both quarters in the second half, so obviously can't have that because that's easy baskets for teams and gets them into rhythm. But other than that, just got to finish with rebounds, which I think we did later in the game."
What's Next: Los Angeles Lakers
Malone: "At his (Kobe Bryant) age and the fact that he's coming off the injury that he had. The guy is amazing. I know he's first or second in the NBA in points per game so he's chasing Michael Jordan. And when you talk about chasing Michael Jordan you must be doing something right. So, hell of a player and not one guy can guard him, he's a great talent, he gets a lot of looks and shots, so we have to make sure we put different guys on him, but we defend him as five guys because that's what it's going to take."
Thompson: "You can't have him [Kobe] get it going, but obviously it's a team game too so you can't have other guys be factors. You know he's going to get his, you just can't have it affect the game that much where they have more points than us, so got to get stops and attack them."
Gay: "Is Kobe playing? [Laughs] Kobe has been playing well. Kobe is obviously their engine and motor - their everything. So if he's out there, they definitely have a chance to win games. No matter what their record is, they have a lot of good players. They have Carlos Boozer, whose a former All Star and everybody knows what Kobe can do so they have pieces, there's nothing we can go in and be relaxed about."