Programming note: Blazers-Kings coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California with Kings Pregame Live (territorial restrictions apply)
After Sacramento’s 95-77 opening night loss to Golden State, Game 2 is more about the Kings getting it right than the formidable opposition they'll face -- Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
Defensively, Sacramento was effective holding the explosive Warriors offense to 22.2 percent from 3-point range and under 100 points on Wednesday night.
However, offensively the Kings were a mess, shooting 31 percent from the floor and 17 percent from 3-point range while committing 27 turnovers.
[REWIND: Turnovers, poor shooting doom Kings]
The field goal percentage dip was a surprise as the Kings shot the ball well in the preseason -- second in field goal percentage and third in 3-point field goal percentage -- but the exhibition turnover average of 20 per game actually increased versus Golden State.
With nine players that were not in training camp last year on a retooled roster, the turnover conundrum is somewhat expected, but cannot be accepted.
It’s common knowledge that there are only three times to dribble:
1. To drive to the basket
2. To improve your passing angle
3. To get out of trouble
In practice, head coach Michael Malone has reinforced that message by making the team run on every fifth turnover, adding a two-dribble limit and even prohibiting dribbling entirely to decrease the faux pas propensity.
Malone shared a summer conversation with San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
“(The Spurs) have a 0.5 mentality -- 0.5 seconds to shoot, pass or drive," Malone explained. "If you’re holding it, you’re wrong. Right now we have a five-second mentality, and that’s killing the flow to our offense.”
The Kings have shown flashes of brilliance -- 20 assists and 11 turnovers in their final exhibition game, a 93-92 win over the Lakers.
“If you make a play, it’s gonna come back to you," Malone told his players. "That’s how this game works.”
Ultimately, here are the keys for Sacramento to bounce tonight versus the Blazers.
1. Defend - Take away the 3-point line: Blazers are shooting .379 so far this year, 10th in NBA.
2. Poise – Take care of the ball and decrease turnovers. The Kings must trust the offense, especially deep in the shot clock, instead of defaulting to one-on-one tactics.
3. Crunch time – Recognition of score, clock and situation will be vital to protect home court against a tough Portland contingent.