Kings players dish on how playing away from home can further foster team bonding, as well as share keys to building on a productive start to the road trip.
Saturday, Sacramento extended its winning streak to three games by earning a hard-fought win in Portland, outscoring the Trail Blazers in three of four quarters and tallying 30 points off 19 forced turnovers.
Prior to departing on the four-game, seven-night road trip, Kings players revealed spending time away from comforts of supportive home crowds in The River City can enhance team unity and cohesiveness.
“I think that’s when you build chemistry, build your trust in your teammates and your trust in coaches,” said Isaiah Thomas. “Guys go out to dinner and spend time together. That’s what the best teams do – you go out to eat with guys, you go to the movies on days off. Whatever it may be, it’s about building that team camaraderie.”
“We might go out to eat and hang out with everybody – become a family,” affirmed Marcus Thornton. “You bond the most on the road and I think that’s big.”
Tyreke Evans explains from the moment the team receives a hostile reception from the boisterous crowd in an away arena during introductions to when the final buzzer sounds, the Kings have to dig deep to overcome adversity.
“When you’re on the road, it’s like everybody’s against you,” he said. “You might have a couple of fans there, but their players feed off the crowd and the energy. When we’re at home, we do the same thing – we try to feed off the crowd and get going.”
“Your energy on the road is even more important (because) you’re playing against their crowd and (their team), as well,” added DeMarcus Cousins. “You’ve got to find your own energy.”
Although rookie Thomas Robinson says the environment in opposing NBA arenas hasn’t been as raucous as he experienced at Kansas, the forward acknowledges it can be difficult to establish a comfort level.
“It’s not like college when you go on the road and there are signs (directed at you) – it’s calmer than that,” he said. “But it’s still a lot different than what you’re used to – you always feel like you’ve got the world on your shoulders.”
James Johnson explains a convincing road victory can go a long way towards building confidence.
“I think it’s a good test of character to see where you are,” said No. 52. “Anybody can play at home – you’ve got so much momentum at home. To go on the road against a team and (quiet) a crowd that’s just screaming at you and the atmosphere is crazy, that’s the real test. I’d rather be on an away trip and have the crowd silent because we beat them – that can feel even better than winning at home to me.”
While Aaron Brooks – who hit two of Sacramento’s five three-pointers in the decisive third quarter of Saturday’s 99-80 win in Portland – says the team needs to be “tough as nails” during the trip, the fifth-year veteran similarly enjoys putting on a show in front of opposing fans.
“I like being on the road,” said the Oregon product. “I like silencing the crowd and it doesn’t bother me being on the road at all.”
A night before the Kings dished out 22 assists and outscored the Trail Blazers 56-39 in the second half, Jason Thompson shared his keys to coming out victorious away from Sleep Train Arena.
“(We’ve got to) finish out games,” said No. 34. “We can have great starts, but then down the stretch, it’s very important, especially on the road, to to be able to believe in each other, talk to each other and make the extra pass.”
“We need to keep our composure (and) understand that we’re going to be the underdog because we’re on the road,” added veteran Chuck Hayes, referring to the four away games as a “business trip.”
“If we keep the crowd out of it, stick together and run our offense, we’ll be OK.”
- Kings players and coaches admit constantly changing cities while adjusting to different time zones can be confusing on a long trip.
“Sometimes you have a back-to-back, and you’ve got to look out the window to remember where you are,” said Thompson.
“It happens a lot – you don’t know what room you’re in or (you get off on) the wrong floor,” said Head Coach Keith Smart with a chuckle. “But you get out there and you find ways to best manage yourself on the road.”