Malik Monk

Monk shares mindset for Kings-Bucks after frustrations vs. Rockets

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The Kings' loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday at Golden 1 Center was one they could not afford, considering Sacramento’s NBA playoff hopes are at stake.

Malik Monk was visibly frustrated against the Rockets after the Kings’ five-point lead at halftime wavered into a steep fourth-quarter deficit and eventual defeat.

In talking to reporters at Kings practice on Monday, Monk shared his frustrations toward Sacramento’s constant struggles -- specifically at home -- in addition to his mindset for Tuesday’s home game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“When we were up a little bit against an under-.500 team -- even though the [Rockets] are in the NBA -- we’re supposed to beat those teams, and that’s been our struggle all year,” Monk told reporters on Monday (h/t Fox 40). And I think our struggles all year have been at home, too. We’re not performing how we’re supposed to in front of the home crowd, and we know that, and that was pissing me off yesterday.”

Monk added that his teammates aren’t too happy either, but they're "a little closed in” regarding their expressions.

Throughout the 2023-24 NBA season, the Kings have dropped many winnable games, especially at home, with a 17-12 record there.

Sacramento recently lost games against the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat, Zach Lavine-less Chicago Bulls and the rebuilding Houston Rockets. The Kings also barely avoided blowing a 20-point lead to the 14-50 San Antonio Spurs without Victor Wembanyama on Thursday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks roll into Sacramento on Tuesday as the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed and winners of seven of their last nine games. Monk thinks the Kings should perform well since they play up to the league’s top competition. 

“As a team, I think we play better against better competition,” Monk said. “I don’t know why. I wish I knew, we probably would’ve had it figured out by now. We’ll figure it out. If not, we’re not going to be in the postseason.”

It’s now or never for the Kings, as the West’s playoff race is feisty. No. 7-seeded Sacramento trails the Phoenix Suns (37-27) by 0.5 games for the highly coveted No. 6 seed.

Teams certainly would like to bypass the NBA play-in tournament, and Sacramento wants to make it two years in a row where it makes the playoffs outright.

But Monk knows the Kings are running out of time to turn their ship around, starting with a date with the Bucks.

“I think we’ll turn it around,” Monk admitted. “If not, we’re not going to be in the postseason. So, it’s whatever we want.

“Hit first. That’s always our mentality when we win. Hit first, play harder than the other teams, win 50-50 balls, get offensive rebounds, things like that. Just playing harder than other teams is what our focus is. Sometimes, you know, it doesn’t happen. We’ll be alright. I think we’ll be ready for tomorrow [against the Bucks].”

In the two teams’ first meeting on Jan. 14, Milwaukee defeated Sacramento 143-142 at Fiserv Forum. The Kings have to hit every team first from here on out.

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