As if the past week wasn't stressful enough, the Kings were dealt a poor hand Wednesday afternoon.
News broke early Wednesday morning that interim coach Alvin Gentry tested positive for COVID-19 and would not coach against the Washington Wizards at Golden 1 Center.
In steps Doug Christie, the interim coach for the interim coach.
Beating the Wizards 119-105 Wednesday night, the Kings snapped a three-game losing streak, giving Christie his first win in his first game as coach.
“Sacramento stand up," Christie said postgame. "I’m super super super proud. This is a team win in the highest regard.
“Playing every single player on the team, it doesn’t get any bigger than that for me watching them share the ball. Then defensively I thought we played one of our better games.”
Christie, a 15-year NBA veteran and four-time All-Defensive player played for Sacramento for four-plus seasons throughout the second half of his career.
Joining the coaching staff this summer, the former Kings player and color commentator has a special place in his heart for the city and the team. The emotional, much-needed win was the icing on top of what had been a crazy day for the 51-year old.
“I wasn’t super nervous, oddly enough," Christie revealed postgame. "I did have a million things running through my head. Which I kinda went and found a room and just wrote down a few things that I wanted to focus on. All the assistants were incredible to help and guide me through with certain parts. Then the team responded. But for me – those of you who know me – I’ve done radio, I've done television and (I get asked) ‘how do you like it?’ There’s no other place in the world I would rather be than on the court with our team. It’s joyous for me in ways I can’t even explain.”
“Doug always keeps it light, he always has the jokes," Harrison Barnes said. "Coming into today I don’t think he was thinking that he was going to be coaching his first game but I thought he did a great job stepping in and giving everybody the right motivation to go out there and get a win.”
Having to cancel their morning shoot-around after the news of Gentry's positive test, the Kings were without their normal routine. Which, for a team that is struggling and trying to find their identity, an added element that is not helpful.
“It’s been a long day, it’s been a weird day," Tyrese Haliburton said postgame. "Everything in the world is crazy right now, especially in the NBA world. I think it threw a lot of us off our routines and stuff like that. Some guys are superstitious with stuff so I’m sure it messed some guys up. I thought we came out and played really well.”
"We can’t control this, we can’t throughout the COVID situation," rookie Davion Mitchell told reporters. "I feel like we went out there and played for each other, played for our teammates that sat out. They supported us, during halftime giving us pointers. Coach Alvin [Gentry] giving us pointers, so they were with us throughout the whole game.”
The Kings battled Wednesday night and didn't let the win slip through their fingers as they've done so many times already this season after second-half collapses. Out-scoring Washington 35-16 in the fourth quarter, they closed out the game the way a winning club is capable of.
“It’s like my teenage son cleaning his room," Christie joked. "Once he showed me that he can do it, now I expect you to do it. It’s in him. Playing defense at a high and hard level, it doesn’t feel good. It hurts. You have to stop on a dime, you have to fight through screens, you have to do things that you don’t like to do.”
Wednesday's win was a temporary weight off the shoulders of everybody within the organization.
“It means everything," Christie added. "I think that when I say ‘unfinished business,’ this is a proud city, a city that deserves a high level of basketball when they come out to watch it. Unfortunately for a long time, it hasn’t been that way. But it does not have to stay that way and it won’t. We’ll get it there, step-by-step."