The Sacramento Kings, minus the injured Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin, beat the Knicks 107-97 at MSG on Wednesday [January 2]. The win boosted the Kings’ record to 12-18.

“[During the interview with the Maloofs], I had told them,” said Reggie Theus, their first year coach, “that I will coach this team hard, and I wouldn’t play guys if they didn’t deserve to be on the floor. I let them know that before they gave me the job ‘cause I needed to know where my support was coming from. We needed to change the culture around here.”

Theus, who averaged 18.5 points and 6.3 assists over 13 seasons, also weighed in with this summation of the Knicks. “I didn’t see any quit in them. But, I didn’t see any effort to take it to the next level. I didn’t see anyone out there [on their side] that was trying to make a difference.”

So, how much of that is Isiah Thomas’ fault?

“The coach is not on the floor. That is the players’ fault. I know Isiah is telling them the right things. There is a lot of talent over there. But, this league coddles the players way too much. Players have to take responsibility, and be accountable for [their play] on the floor. That’s the way it should be.

“The blame has to be spread out. I’ve been on losing teams. I know what it’s like. I’ve never had a coach tell me not to do certain things. In a lot of cases [when I played], it was talent-based. We weren’t very good. But, the Knicks are a lot better than that. The coach has to take the hit; we all understand that. But, the accountability still needs to fall on the players’ shoulders.”