The Sacramento Kings fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 111-104 in their season opener at Sleep Train Arena Wednesday night. Following the game, head coach George Karl and some of the players shared their thoughts with reporters on what went wrong (the game plan to give Blake Griffin midrange shots - he scored 33 points on 14-20 shooting) and what went right (the second half fight to get back into the game) in the loss.
What Went Wrong
George Karl: "Defensively, we kind of got beat by what we wanted. We wanted to give Blake [Griffin] jump shots, he made jump shots. We took the lob out of the game until one of the last plays."
"We didn't get to the free throw line as much as we hoped to get and we missed some layups, some easy, well not easy baskets, but we had a lot of shots near the rim that I think we could expect to finish a little better than we did."
"I thought from the standpoint of conditioning we probably were a little tired. There was two timeouts in the second half I called for rest. I didn't call them for a play, I called them, hey, we just need to get some oxygen."
"I think we did some good things defensively, but we're not a mature defensive team yet. We still don't stay focused in, on the pick and roll play they hurt us with early in the first half and the second half we gave them three, four easy baskets on it. It's a play that we know they are going to run and they ran very well and we didn't defend it very well. So there is a maturity to our defense that I would like us to have."
DeMarcus Cousins: "Midrange killed us, but bad part about it was that was kind of our game plan coming in. We wanted them to beat us with midrange shots, even though that's Chris Paul's strength and something that Blake's been developing throughout his career, but we kind of wanted to live with it. We wanted to take away the three with J.J. [Reddick]. I think we did a good job with that, but even with that, their midrange killed us."
"Turnovers killed us, especially on my end. I don't think we really ran well tonight. I think we could have done a better job of sharing the ball."
"I think we came out a little sluggish actually. I think we could have come out with a little higher energy. And we were also fighting the whole game, kind of put ourselves in a hole."
Rudy Gay: "First half was I think our nerves got into it. We're a relatively new team, playing against a team full of veterans that play together, mixed in with some guys that are new. I think we played like we were young and that's something we can't do if we want to be a good team ... We want to be great, it's not a option to be bad, not anymore, not for us. It's not a option for us ... we all want to win, it's just going to take some time. We're a new team, we've got two players, three players in the starting lineup that have been here and everybody else has been in and out. We moved in new people, we brought in a point guard, which is our general that still has to learn how to play with us, he's still learning too."
Marco Belinelli: "I think we need to play better, more together. Move the ball side to side."
"Defense wins championships, so win games and we need to be better on that. We've got time to work. Tomorrow morning we are going to watch our mistakes on today's game and we're going to try to get ready for the Lakers."
What Went Right
George Karl: "My team fought awful hard in the second half, they were really into the game and they rebounded the ball really well."
DeMarcus Cousins: "We still had a great chance of winning this game. It just shows the potential that's there."
"The second unit did a good job, brought us back, brought some energy, so I'm thankful for that."
Rudy Gay: "I felt like we played good in the second half ... It started on the defensive end, we got some stops and we can score with anybody so that's going to come, but we got some stops in the second half and we got back into the game ... We made them take tough shots. They have great players and great players that can make tough shots, but you're going to have to do that consistently and they couldn't, that gave us a chance to get back into it."
Marco Belinelli: "I think we played well with the second unit, we moved the ball more and we started to score easy baskets. I think we played against one of the best teams in the league, the Clippers they are a really good team, they play fast ... The first half for us was a little bit tough ... but I think we didn't give up. In the third quarter I think we were down by 10 or maybe more than that, but we didn't give up we responded, we played together last quarter."
I can't leave without mentioning the quote of the night. DeMarcus Cousins had this to say about the Clippers:
"I hate them, honestly I do. I hate them."
The comments are not surprising, considering the 2013 incident in which Cousins stopped Isaiah Thomas from shaking Chris Paul's hand after a game. There also was the time Boogie called Blake Griffin an actor.
The Kings take on the other Los Angeles team Friday when the Lakers come to town. Then they'll have a rematch with this same Clippers team on Saturday in L.A.