When the Kings walked so sheepishly off the United Center floor at halftime against Chicago on Monday night, they half expected to have pink slips waiting in their lockers with the way they pretended to compete.
Nonexistent defense on their part and outrageous offense from the Bulls added up to a 24-point deficit.And even tempered as coach Paul Westphal may be, some players were certain a tongue-lashing was coming.
“But he didn’t come in here and curse us out like we were little kids,” rookie guard Tyreke Evans said. “He talked to us. He said, ‘We’re not playing our best basketball, but keep fighting.’ And then we went out there and did that. It was unbelievable.”
Eddie Jordan’s been a failure so far. Flip Saunders has been an outright disaster so far. John Kuester has not exactly flipped the script. But Lionel Hollins and Paul Westphal? They’ve been outright geniuses.
This little tidbit from last night’s debacle/glorious beckoning of Tyreke Evans to the council of the Gods is a great example of how to deal with a team like the Kings. I’m not saying that there aren’t times when you need to yell. There are. But so many coaches are tempted to go drill sergeant on a young squad. Westphal has been unendingly patient with these guys. Keeping them with one foot in front of the other is how you keep expectations low and potential high.
Well, that and having Reke Havoc, the ROY and the guy who should have been picked 1st overall. You know. Him.