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In the most impassioned postgame press conference of the 2021-22 NBA season, Sacramento Kings big man Tristan Thompson blasted the team's defense and gave an honest -- extremely honest! -- assessment of the 1-3 road trip that ended with a 107-97 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. 

Coming into the Wolves game, the Kings had lost by 19 points to the San Antonio Spurs, lost by two points to the Oklahoma City Thunder and beaten the Detroit Pistons by 22 points. Asked if he has a short-term memory about the losses or reflects hard on them, thinking about ways the team can improve, Thompson said that it's a balance of the two. Then he continued with his two-minute, 12-second answer, in which he made it clear he expects more from his team, particularly against less-than-stellar competition.

"I think, at the end of the day, the reality of it is this road trip should have been a 4-0, point blank, period," Thompson said. "I was going on this road trip planning on going 4-0. The teams that we played against -- OKC: They don't want to win games, they want to rebuild, everyone f-----g knows that. The Spurs: They have all young guys, they're trying to figure it out. They have damn near eight guys who all play the same position, they're trying to figure it out. Do they want to win games? Maybe, sure. But do they really want to be in the playoffs? Probably not. Probably want a top-10 pick. Timberwolves: They got names, but are they trying to win? Roll the dice, see what happens, figure out their roster. Detroit: They do not want to win. They want another top-three, top-five pick."

"And that's no disrespect to the players on their team," Thompson continued. "They're going to play hard and give it everything they've got. But at the end of the day, I know how this league works and I know how the front office works. I can break down every front office and I know their mentality coming into every season. Especially after 20 games. So those teams, three out of the four teams really didn't want to win those games. They're probably pissed that they even won, that they won those games. 

"These are the games you have to win. If you're trying to be in the playoffs or be in the play-in game, these are the wins that you have to capitalize on. Because when we get back home, we have Utah. That's a contender or a contending team in the West. You got Toronto, that's playing well. You got all these teams that are quote-unquote playoff teams, and those will be tougher wins to get and it'll be a tougher battle, so these teams, this four-game road trip was supposed to be a 4-0, worst-case scenario 3-1 and maybe the one game you do drop would've been tonight. So it's definitely disappointing."

At this point, Thompson returned to the question of flushing poor performances versus analyzing losses so you can learn from them.

"I think, yes, you gotta have short-term (memory) in terms of we can't keep harping on the past," Thompson said. "I think the key from this road trip is that you gotta close out defensively, you gotta string multiple stops (together) and you gotta have each other's back. We gotta be on a string and have a brotherhood. The offense, it's going to have the highs and lows. Who gives a shit? It's the NBA. But defensively, that's what matters. And I think that's what you have to learn on this road trip: That defense is what's going to keep you in the game and give you a chance to win. And that's all you want at the end of the day. So if you're taking steps (back) defensively, like we did tonight, then you end up losing by 10-plus points to the Timberwolves. No disrespect to them, give them credit, they played well, but that's unacceptable."

Whew. Full marks to Thompson for being willing to "shoot it to you straightforward, with no sugarcoat," as he put it later in the presser. And as harsh as he might sound, I doubt that a large percentage of those teams' fans would take issue with Thompson's framing. The Wolves might be the one exception -- they, like the Kings, entered the season with the playoffs in mind -- but Thompson didn't include them in the "probably pissed that they even won" category.

As far as his criticism of Sacramento's problems, Thompson is on the money. The Kings weren't particularly good against Minnesota offensively, but on the season they rank seventh. They are 23rd on defense, though, allowing 109.3 points per 100 possessions, and on the four-game trip they gave up 113.5 per 100, with the Spurs' most efficient offensive performance of the season inflating that number.

Thompson, an 11-year veteran who won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, does not want to see Sacramento's energy and attention to detail on the defensive end go by the wayside when they're having a rough shooting night. The Kings have a 6-9 record despite a slightly positive point differential, which is only an encouraging thing if you believe they have room for error.  

"Like we've been preaching since training camp, your offense can't determine your defense," Thompson said. "We gotta understand if we're trying to get somewhere where this team hasn't been in over a decade or damn near two decades, it's the little things that are gonna put you in position to be there."

Specifically, he lamented Sacramento's poor help defense on Wednesday when Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns got in the paint. He also mentioned poor defensive rebounding. The offense wasn't completely spared, either: Thompson said the Kings needed to be more organized against the Timberwolves' zone and take better care of the ball. 

"What guys gotta understand is that those little things over the course of 48 minutes -- the my bads after my bads after my bads -- is what's gonna cost you the game in fourth quarter," Thompson said. "And the reason why we got a loss."

Sacramento coach Luke Walton's job security is reportedly in question. Thompson said that the team can't listen to the "chatter" on that subject, that is "not splintering" and he knows that his teammates want to win. He still believes in the Kings' potential, he said, adding that "the frustration is from a place of love." When a reporter asked if it is on Walton to make sure the team doesn't unravel when things start to go wrong, Thompson rejected the notion as strongly as possible. 

"If you don't get inspired in the game, then you shouldn't be on the court," Thompson said. "Losing teams, losing players, you need to gain inspiration from your coach. And I'm not with that shit. My teammates better not be -- my teammates aren't with it. Because I know guys want to win, they want to win badly. So it's not about Coach Walton inspiring you. This is not no frickin' "Glory Road" shit. No, you got to be ready to play. Your number's called, you're in the damn game. I don't need no f-----g coach to inspire me. Never that. Never have, never will. The day I need a coach to inspire me the day I'm f-----g retiring, I'm going to go play with my kids at the park. So, I speak for my teammates with that quote. So, we don't need no coach to inspire us."

If you would like a glass-half-full perspective on Sacramento, just remember that it could be worse. Last season, the Kings were 5-10 after 15 games and finished the season with the worst defense in the league. This is progress!