The losses keep piling up for the Kings, and each one is more frustrating than the last.
Veteran big man Tristan Thompson laid it all out on the table Wednesday night following Sacramento's frustrating 107-97 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
In a game filled with turnovers, poor shooting and plenty of little mistakes, the Kings had nobody to blame but themselves for their fifth loss in their last six games.
“In the NBA you’re going to have nights where you’re going to make shots, you’re going to have nights where you don’t make shots," Thompson told reporters postgame. "Like we’ve been preaching since training camp, your offense can’t determine your defense. We gotta understand that if we’re trying to get somewhere this team hasn’t been in over a decade or damn near two decades, it’s the little things that are going to put you in a position to be there. It doesn’t guarantee you it, nothing is guaranteed in life, but it puts you in position.
"It’s a compound thing and what guys gotta understand is those little things over the course of 48 minutes, the ‘my bad’ after ‘my bad’ after ‘my bad’ is what is going to cost you a game in the fourth quarter and the reason why we got a loss.”
Thompson speaks for himself and his teammates in saying that these losses are not due to a lack of motivation.
“I’m gonna say this," Thompson said. "I think no man in this world should rely on another man to inspire them. Point-blank, period. You can put that in all capitals. Me personally, no one should ever need a coach to inspire you. If you don’t get inspired in the game, then you shouldn’t be on the court. Losing teams, losing players, you need to get inspiration from your coach, and I’m not with that s--t.
"My teammates aren’t with it, because I know guys want to win and win badly. It’s not about coach Walton inspiring you, this is not no freaking Glory Road s--t. You gotta be ready to play. Your number’s called, you in the damn game, I don't need no f--king coach to inspire me. Never have, never will. The day I need a coach to inspire me, is the day I’m f--king retiring, I’m going to go play with my kids in the park. I speak for my teammates with that quote, we don’t need a coach to inspire us.”
The Kings just wrapped up a four-game road trip that consisted of losses to the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota. Thompson expressed his frustration with each of the three losses, especially to teams that he believes have no interest in winning games.
“At the end of the day the reality is this road trip should have been a 4-0 (road trip), point-blank, period," Thompson added. "I was going on this road trip planning on going 4-0. The teams that we played against, OKC, they don’t want to win games. They want to rebuild, everyone f--king knows that. The Spurs, they have all young guys, they’re trying to figure it out. They have damn near eight guys playing the same position, they’re trying to figure it out.
"Do they want to win games? Maybe, sure. But do they really want to be in the playoffs? Probably not, probably want a top-10 pick. Timberwolves, they’ve got names, but are they trying to win? Roll the dice and see what happens, figure out their roster. Detroit? They do not want to win, they want another top-three, top-five pick. That’s no disrespect to the players on their teams, they’re going to play hard and give it everything they got. At the end of the day, I know how this league works, how the front office works. I can break down every front office and I know their mentality coming into every season, especially after 20 games. Three out of four teams really didn’t want to win those games, they’re probably pissed that they won those games."
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Thompson isn't the only one frustrated with the Kings' struggles. You can sense the frustration in coach Luke Walton and any of the players who speak after a loss. It's evident and warranted given the talent Sacramento has and the 15-year playoff drought that continues to hang over the Kings' heads. But frustration is a good thing. It means they care, and Thompson echoed that.
“I think everyone is frustrated," Thompson said postgame. "I think for me, the player I am is energy, effort, hard work, punching the clock in. So of course I'm going to be frustrated because I know what this team is capable of, and also because I care. At the end of the day, I care and I want to win. I care about my teammates, but I know what we can be.
"The frustration is from a place of love and tough love because I know where we can be. If I thought this team was s--t or had no potential, then I probably wouldn’t feel the way I feel. I know what this team is capable of, I know each and every guy there's heart is in the right place and they want to win. Every guy in there wants to win, you know it, you see it in their eyes. I’ve been on teams where you’ve seen quitters, you’ve seen losers, straight-up losers, but this team has guys that want to win and want to do something special for this city.”
Fortunately for the Kings, there is still plenty of season left. The fight is there, the desire to win is there, and the talent is definitely there. Sometimes a little tough love is exactly what a young team needs to right the ship.
That's something Thompson is happy to provide.
Sacramento will return home to face the Toronto Raptors (7-8) for the first game of a four-game homestand, with the Utah Jazz (9-5), Philadelphia 76ers (8-7) and Portland Trail Blazers (8-8) to follow.