After a long weekend, Coach Smart, Cousins and Thompson eye a strong start to the season’s second half. Plus, Thomas discloses his new nickname.
– Following a four-day break during NBA All-Star Weekend, Kings players returned to the practice facility on Monday evening, rejuvenated and focused on a strong second half of the season.
“This team always has unbridled energy,” said Head Coach Keith Smart, who enjoyed spending time with his teenage sons over the long weekend. “I think they all came recharged and now want to get off to a good start and play well (against the Spurs).”
For center DeMarcus Cousins, time away from the hardwood presented an essential opportunity to rest and spend time with loved ones. Similarly, forward Jason Thompson took a brief respite to visit family and friends in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
“(I was) just hanging out – seeing people I hadn’t seen in a while,” said No. 34.
“I took some time off, had a day where I put some shots up on Saturday, and got a nice lift in and total body workout.”
In addition, No. 34 paid a surprise visit to his alma mater and hosted a get-together to watch Sunday’s midseason classic.
“I went to see Rider play Marist – they won by four,” he said. “Then, I had people over to my condo in Philly to watch the All-Star Game, which was pretty good.”
Sacramento’s big men, refreshed upon working up a sweat at practice, stated the team’s goal is to win as many games as possible and “finish out strong.”
– The Kings are prepared for a tough matchup against the League-leading Spurs Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
“They’re a grind-it-out team – they might not be the flashiest, but they have the best record in the West,” said Thompson. “Whatever they’ve been doing on a consistent basis, they always find a way to get the job done.”
No. 34 says he continues to marvel at the refined game of 14-time All-Star Tim Duncan.
“He’s ‘Mr. Fundamental,’” said Thompson. “He’s not getting any younger, but he’s obviously still effective in the post and finding ways (to score) using bank shots and getting in the groove.”
Isaiah Thomas – who held All-Star Tony Parker to five points in the teams’ previous meeting on Nov. 9, 2012 – reveals keys to slowing down his backcourt counterpart.
“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and I just want to use my quickness against him, try to contain him and make it tough for him,” said No. 22. “That’s all you can do on a great player like him.”
– After notching 18 points and 10 assists in Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge, Thomas earned a new nickname from his Kings teammates – “All-Star.”
“I like those types of games – I like the big stage and I like the bright lights,” he reflected. “I feel I play better when the lights are a little brighter, and they were very bright on Friday.”
The second-year guard, who called attending All-Star Weekend “the experience of a lifetime,” added he treasures the opportunity to gain knowledge from many of the League’s top players.
“(I appreciated) just being around greatness,” he said. “Being around the real All-Stars and seeing how they carry themselves, (I’m) trying to learn from them.”
Catch Cousins and the Kings battle Duncan and the Spurs tonight at 7 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena. To get tix, Click Here.