Coach Smart and Thompson dish on keys to slowing down San Antonio and its two-time MVP. Plus, Robinson issues an apology for his uncharacteristic ejection.
– As the Kings get set to take on the Spurs – currently tied for the best record in the Western Conference – Kings Head Coach Keith Smart, commending his team’s competitiveness, recalled Sacramento’s spirited effort against San Antonio last season.
“I think it’ll be another chance for us to keep looking at teams as we come out and compete and play (them as well as) we did last year,” said Smart. “We competed and played our tails off up until the latter part of the game (on March 28), when (Manu) Ginobili hit a three off the glass.”
Smart, who played two games for the Spurs in 1988-89 when now-Head Coach Gregg Popovich was an assistant, has the utmost respect for the four-time NBA champion and two-time Coach of the Year.
“Everything about how he approaches the game, how his team is prepared to win a game, how he prepares for a basketball game – (he’s) just a huge mentor,” said the Kings leader.
– Jason Thompson reveals San Antonio’s selfless and defense-oriented brand of basketball has served as a blueprint for the up-and-coming Kings.
“They just play great as a team – it starts with defense, guys make the extra pass and it’s successful for them,” he said, admiring San Antonio’s consistency and historic winning percentage.
No. 34 adds that facing 13-time All-Star Tim Duncan always presents a difficult matchup.
“’Mr. Fundamental’ – he’s arguably the best power forward to ever do it in NBA history,” says the Rider product. “Obviously, he doesn’t have the same athleticism (he once had), but he still finds ways to get it done. His jump shot is still there, you don’t want him to go by you and don’t want him to get easy positions in the post where he can use his fundamentals and use the backboard.”
– After Jimmer Fredette scored a season-high 12 points in 15 minutes of action, Smart praised No. 7 for staying prepared despite seeing limited court time over the first four games of the season.
“I’m absolutely happy with everything he’s doing … he has an identity of what he wants to do,” said Smart.
“I think he understands, ‘I may not get the minutes I want, but I have to know when Coach calls my name I’m going to be ready.’”
– Thomas Robinson – who’s been suspended by the NBA for two games following a Flagrant Foul Two and ejection against Detroit – took full responsibility for his actions while speaking with media after Thursday’s practice.
“I was wrong,” he said. “I was 100 percent at fault.”
Robinson added he’ll learn from his mistake and not let his emotions get the best of him in the future.
“I definitely take full responsibility and I apologize to the whole organization, my fans and anybody who’s supporting me,” he said. “It won’t happen again.”