SACRAMENTO -- How do you stop the noise? You go out and win another game.
The Kings continued their hot start Monday night at Golden 1 Center, surviving a rough third quarter to come away with a 117-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The win snapped a two-game skid, and propelled the Kings back over .500.
Caught in a media storm over his future with the club over the last 48 hours, Kings fans gave embattled coach Dave Joerger a loud ovation before the start of the game.
“We really care about our fans, we’ve got great fans, I love it here, I love listening to the ovation tonight - that was really cool,” Joerger said after the win Monday. “And to get the win over a very, very good team tonight is really gratifying.”
It’s not the situation that anyone wants to be in. Despite assurances that his job was never in jeopardy, the stress of hearing your name brought up in regards to a potential coaching change is never easy. Joerger took the chaotic situation to heart.
His young team did their best to block out anything coming from beyond the walls of the locker room.
“Every game is important for us, we just try to stay together, don’t listen to the outside and nothing really matters, except everybody on this team,” rookie big man Marvin Bagley III said. “Going out and winning, that’s the main goal for us is to win every game we step on the floor and play and that’s all that matters.”
One of the few veterans on the squad, guard Iman Shumpert, has seen just about everything in his eight-year career. After putting up 23 points on the night, he was feeling good and tried to lighten the mood in the locker room.
“I’ve been a part of all type of rumors,” Shumpert said. “When I was with the Knicks, I got traded for three years before I actually got traded. I don’t know how accurate your guys' information is sometimes.”
Joerger survived the ordeal, and may have even come out stronger. His team is playing a fun brand of basketball, and the fans are engaged and ready to back him.
No one expected the Kings to sit at 9-8 through 17 games. They took their first negative hit from the outside, and bounced back for a big win. There is a resiliency to this group that is refreshing. They’ll have another test come Wednesday when they fly to Utah to face another playoff contender in the Jazz.