The Kings just started their first extended road trip of the season. First, they went to Los Angeles on Wednesday and then played in San Antonio last night. It was only the second destination of a six-game road trip, but that is a lot of basketball and travelling in not a lot of time.
That gets tiring quickly, especially when you change time zones on the way. It is certainly no excuse—if you want to be one of the top teams in the league, you have to perform in non-ideal situations—but all that had the Kings get off to a slow start.
They looked tired and sluggish, giving the Spurs a chance to take off and get the upper hand early on. It was an ugly start, and even when the Kings got going, they could never really hold on to the lead for long. It easily could’ve ended in a real disaster.
At one point, the Kings were down 23-5 to a three-win team. That is not who the Kings want to be—or have to be in order to return to the playoffs—and luckily they figured it out, largely due to the bench getting them back into the game.
Mike Brown credits associate head coach Jordi Fernandez with the win
De’Aaron Fox had a monster game with 43 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block and Domantas Sabonis and Malik Monk left their fingerprints all over the win as well. Mike Brown gave quite a lot of credit to one of his coaches, however.
"“Jordi Fernandez came in and suggested that we don’t have shoot around today. I love to practice, I love to fo to shoot around, and I didn’t really want to hear it at first, but Jordi has known me for years and he’s not afraid. He’s going to speak his mind, and that’s why he’s going to be a head coach this summer somewhere…I said that’s probably the right thing to do. We changed time zones, and we had a long day yesterday, because we practiced in LA, and got here late. When we landed, our guys had a two-hour meeting. I think if we would have gotten them up and went through a normal shoot around this morning, we probably don’t win the game…We still had a lot of energy. Not just physically, but we had our minds refreshed from not having to get up and come to shoot around this morning.”"- Mike Brown in his postgame interview
This is a lengthy quote, but the main takeaway is simple: Brown trusts Fernandez to help him make the right decisions and doesn’t expect him to be an assistant coach in Sacramento for much longer.
This does not only show Fernandez’s value as a coach but also Mike Brown’s willingness to take advice. Knowing that your head coach will listen to pretty much anyone on his staff or team, is great for team chemistry and trust, which is crucial to any extended postseason run.
We just saw the perfect example last season. After coming off yet another championship, the Warriors didn’t have the right chemistry or enough trust between teammates. As a result, they did not make it past the second round.
Kings are now in a good position to win their In-Season Tournament Group
Thanks to Fernandez and a quick change in energy on the floor, the Kings won their fifth straight game and got another In-Season Tournament victory.
The Kings’ next In-Season Tournament game will be at home against the Golden State Warriors on November 28. With two wins and 234 points already, the Kings are currently on top of their group, just slightly ahead of the Timberwolves, and are on the right track to make it to the next round.