SACRAMENTO, CA - With a dismal record at 2-7, the Sacramento Kings are seemingly at a crossroads at just over two weeks into the NBA season.
After two consecutive home losses in blowout fashion at Sleep Train Arena, a change was needed for the Kings. That was the belief of their head coach on Friday night and promised after Saturday's practice.
"I'm going to make some changes," said head coach Keith Smart. "I shared that with the team and they'll be different on the floor tomorrow."
With the promise of change during Sunday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, a clear the air session was needed inside the Kings locker room.
Moments after that 112-96 loss to the Trail Blazers, the Kings held a players only meeting organized by the team's veterans and led by John Salmons.
"It was very much needed," Chuck Hayes said following practice on Saturday. "We wanted to make sure everyone was still committed even though things were going bad."
The players may be frustrated, but the fans voiced their own displeasure of the team's effort on Friday night with a chorus of boos after the game. That message was heard loud and clear by the players, who are using it as motivation.
Jason Thompson said he appreciated the tough love from the fans.
"It's frustration, which they should (feel), and it tells you that they care," Thompson said. "For them to do that, obviously it's not the best situation, but it's knowing that we got to play better."
After dropping four straight games, Smart could certainly relate to the frustrations of the fans.
"I would boo as well," he said Friday night. "Boo me as well. But when the fans pay their hard-earned money to come to a game, they want to see a team that plays hard and plays with passion...and that didn't happen for the entire game."
With the red-hot Brooklyn Nets heading into town on Sunday, they will have the benefit of two full days off before facing Sacramento.
Led by start point guard Deron Williams, the Nets are 5-2 coming off Thursday's 102-97 victory over Boston. That victory was fifth straight for the Nets, who are playing in their inaugural season in Brooklyn.
Sunday's game in Sacramento will kick-start a three-game west coast road trip for the Nets. They'll visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, followed by the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Wednesday.
Sunday's game in Sacramento will mark the first of ten games that will be aired on News10. A special Toyota Sports Extra will begin at 2:30 p.m. before the game tips off at 3:00 p.m.
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net