SACRAMENTO -- The tank is on. All around the league, teams are shutting it down and making a mockery of the NBA's stretch run. That's not the case in Sacramento. They've gone young, but they haven't given in.
Over the last 13 games, the Kings are a game under .500 at 6-7. It's frustrating for fans who are hoping for a lottery victory for Sacramento, but the Kings are focused on building a culture.
Head coach Dave Joerger has stated plenty of times that there is a spirit to the Kings. A fight that you can see everyday in practice. It's not lip service.
"It's been that way, wins and losses, we're all competitive and want to win," Joerger said Monday afternoon. "But to come to practice and get better everyday and keep it fresh and do different things, it's all in the guys and the energy that they bring."
As the season wanes, the Kings have allowed the media to see more and more of what is happening behind the scenes. Monday afternoon was a prime example of the energy that the Kings are bringing, whether it's in a game or in practice.
JaKarr Sampson is the player breaking away for the hammer, but he's not the only one bringing energy to the practice. The team has pulled up their two-way players and rookie redshirt Harry Giles is seeing time on the practice court as well.
"I think both have infectious charisma about them," Joerger said of Giles and Sampson. "You look at them in the eye and they smile and they're going to go a hundred miles per hour and try to do what you ask them to do."
In the final moments of practice, Team White and Team Black were all tied up on Monday. With the clock winding down, De'Aaron Fox made a spectacular pass to Jack Cooley in the post. Cooley went for the win, but both Sampson and Giles attacked the shot.
Following the attempt, players huddled around my iPhone, watching the replay frame by frame to see if the shot hit the glass before Giles made contact or not. Eventually, the shot was ruled a goaltend, which Cooley turned to Twitter to confirm.
This is not normal 74 games into an NBA season. Playoff teams are resting bodies, trying to preserve for the NBA's second season. Basement dwellers are walking through the motions, maybe even canceling practice late in the year.
Not only are the Kings not shutting it down, they are going at it. Following the session, players sat with assistant coaches to watch film. There is no tank in this club.
24-50 isn't a good season. But the Kings are building toward something. This is about development and assessing what the team has moving forward. It's hard not to like what you are seeing.