Domantas Sabonis

Kings echo accountability amid chase for West's No. 6 seed

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Kings know they must hold each other accountable for dropping too many winnable games throughout the 2023-24 NBA season.

In talking to reporters Saturday at Kings practice, forward Trey Lyles, center Domantas Sabonis and coach Mike Brown expressed how seriously they're taking the team's recurring issues amid its NBA playoff push.

“Like I’ve been saying the past couple of weeks, we got to continue to hold each other accountable,” Lyles told reporters Saturday. “[Collapses] like [vs. San Antonio Spurs] shouldn’t be happening. We know what we’re all capable of. We go to places like [Los Angeles and] places like Minnesota and play very well. And then we come home and lay an egg or play lackadaisical. And everyone knows that’s unacceptable. 

“We’ve probably done it more than other teams have. It could be happening around the league, [but] that doesn’t mean it needs to happen here.”

The Kings held a 20-point lead over the Spurs on Thursday at Golden 1 Center before trailing by eight points in the fourth quarter -- fortunately for the home team, it prevailed. But two games before, Sacramento lost to the Chicago Bulls at home after leading by 22 points. 

Blowing leads and losing winnable games have been the underscores of Sacramento’s season and are two facets that consistently frustrate general manager Monte McNair

Sacramento is 36-26 with 20 games remaining but likely would have 40-plus wins if it could shut the door on opponents more often -- and team-enforced accountability is necessary.

The No. 7-seeded Kings trail the Phoenix Suns (37-26) by 0.5 games for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Avoiding the NBA play-in tournament would be monumental for Sacramento’s title-winning aspirations.

“We’re still the No. 7 seed,” Sabonis said (h/t Fox 40’s Sean Cunningham). “We want to get into that playoff spot [No. 6]. Everyone’s tied from fifth to 10th [place]. You got to keep [going] one game at a time and hopefully win all of them.”

Brown wants the Kings to win them all, too.

The second-year Kings coach’s focus down the stretch is on maximizing Sacramento’s potential. With stars like Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, Brown knows his team must be better.

“It’s about trying to maximize our potential as best we can no matter what’s in front of us, and it’s my job to help with that," Brown said (h/t Cunningham). "For me, it’s just about trying to push the right buttons for our group based on where we’re at in specific areas. We can be a lot better than what we are.” 

A year ago, the Kings made strides as a franchise when reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2006, led by their NBA All-Star tandem in Sabonis and Fox.

But Sacramento isn’t satisfied with just another playoff appearance. The Kings want it all, and Brown doesn’t want that to get twisted.

“Sometimes when people talk to me, they talk to me like we’ve arrived,” Brown added. “Like we’re a seven-year, deep, playoff-run type team. We made the playoffs last year and lost in the first round. [We] didn’t make the playoffs for 16, 17 years before that. 

“There’s a lot of newness that we’re going through right now that we have to figure out and -- that we’re more than capable [of] figuring out -- sooner than later.”

The Kings are holding themselves accountable by assessing their collapses, acknowledging their seeding and evaluating their ceiling. 

With 20 games left, it’s now or never for Sacramento to be consistent and improve.

Contact Us