Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton said his team needs to have a short memory after coming off a loss that put it on the brink of postseason elimination.
“We’ve got to bounce back and mentally be ready to get after it again,” Walton said after a 113-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. “We have to find the same mindset we’ve been playing with. Like I’ve said for awhile now, we’ve been playing really good basketball. There’s a couple losses in there but overall it’s been a good brand and we want to be sure we keep playing that way moving forward.”
Going into Sunday’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Kings are three games behind the Spurs for the 10th spot in the Western Conference. The New Orleans Pelicans are one game ahead of Sacramento.
With five games left and San Antonio holding the tiebreaker, any combination of two Spurs wins or Kings losses would extend Sacramento’s streak of missing the playoffs to a 15th consecutive season.
“We play,” Richaun Holmes said of how the Kings would bounce back from Friday’s loss. “We run out there to compete every night like we’ve done these last few games.
“There won’t be no letup.”
Sacramento (29-38) has back-to-back home games against the Thunder on tap. The teams also play Tuesday.
The Kings won the first meeting between the teams, 103-99, on Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
Sacramento point guard De’Aaron Fox has missed the past eight games in the league’s health and safety protocols but is nearing a return. Fox returned to the team for Friday’s game though he didn’t play.
While the Kings are trying to keep their faint playoff hopes alive for at least another day, the Thunder have been looking to the future for awhile.
That includes with the late addition of Gabriel Deck, a 26-year-old Argentine whom Oklahoma City signed to a multi-year deal.
In Deck’s first six games with the Thunder, he has 15 assists and just three turnovers.
“He’s impressive there,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said of Deck. “He plays the right way, that’s the simplest way to put it. He plays with great toughness, especially on the defensive end with physicality. He’s going to stick his nose in there. Offensively, he’s going to make the right play nine out of 10 times or more. I think the assist-to-turnovers is just a byproduct of that. He’s a very, very reliable player.”
Deck scored a career-high 16 points in Tuesday’s loss to the Kings. He also had three assists and no turnovers.
The Thunder (21-47) have lost six in a row and 23 of their past 25, however the losses haven’t dampened their spirits.
“We just gotta keep playing. We know what we’re building here,” Svi Mykhailiuk said. “We just have to be patient and keeping learning the game, keep playing hard and playing together. It’s a 48-minute game. We gotta keep doing the things we emphasize every day and I think we’ll be fine.”
–Field Level Media