Malik Monk

What Monk, Barnes believe is key to Kings' final 28 games

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A few days removed from the 2024 NBA All-Star break, the Kings are the No. 8 seed in a stacked Western Conference.

In talking to reporters Tuesday, Kings microwave-scorers Malik Monk and Harrison Barnes detailed Sacramento’s approach to its crucial 28-game stretch to close the 2023-24 NBA season.

“Every [game] is like our last,” Monk said (h/t FOX40’s Sean Cunningham). “Every one is like a playoff game, man. We got to come in with that focus. And I think we’ll do it.”

“[The All-Star break] was good," Barnes said. “It was a great chance to kind of get away, reset and refresh. We know this last stretch, it’s going to be important for us to come out and play hard and get ready for the playoffs.”

“Important” indeed, as Sacramento does not want to participate in the NBA play-in tournament.

Before they host the San Antonio Spurs at Golden 1 Center on Thursday, the Kings are a game behind the No. 7-seeded Dallas Mavericks and 1.5 games back of the No. 6-seeded New Orleans Pelicans.

Coach Mike Brown has his assessment of how the Kings can improve down the stretch, acknowledging Sacramento’s need to be sharper around the edges.

As for the players' approach? Barnes gave a straightforward answer.

“It sounds like a broken record, but I think it just comes down to consistency,” Barnes stated. “You know, I think we’ve shown, in moments -- small stretches of the season -- who we want to be [and] who we can be. And I think it’s just a matter of replicating that. 

“I don’t think we necessarily have to go out and reinvent the wheel or do anything crazy different. It’s just a matter of, can we get that performance night in and night out, whether we’re playing a top team in the league, a team that’s out of the playoffs, a team that has their starters [or] a team that doesn’t? You know, I think that’s our challenge. Can we put forth the same effort every single night?”

The Kings have had too many losses to lowly teams, something general manager Monte McNair noted as “frustrating” last week. 

But in the same breath, Sacramento has earned big wins over contending teams, even holding a 3-0 record over the defending-champion Denver Nuggets this season.

Regardless, the Kings have to excel to finish the year.

During the 2022-23 NBA season, Sacramento had the same 31-23 record it has now, ultimately finishing 48-34 as the West’s No. 3 seed.

While the Kings snapped their 16-year NBA playoff drought last season, they’re now looking to compete for championships rather than playoff berths. 

To do so, Sacramento can start by building good habits, as Barnes suggested.

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