The Kings know if it's a late-game situation, they can turn to Marcus Thornton and he'll take a shot under pressure.
Thornton began doing that when the Kings traded for him in February 2011. He has been a starter ever since he joined the team. And he has remained a clutch player who would make the big shot in the fourth quarter.
But Monday night saw a change as the Kings experiment with new lineups for the 2012-13 season. Thornton came off the bench to lead the Kings with 23 points in a 117-100 preseason victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the newly renamed Sleep Train Arena.
Afterward, Thornton said he found Monday's situation a little uncomfortable.
"I haven't come off the bench in a long time, so I had to keep myself into the game," Thornton said. "Standing up, cheering, moving around, keeping my bones warmed up. It kind of didn't work because when I got in I kind of fumbled the ball. But I knew as time went on I was going to catch on and get my rhythm back."
Thornton made 8 of 11 shots, including four of his five three pointers.
Thornton also had two assists and three steals as he tries to show he can be more than a scorer.
Thornton led the Kings with a career-high 18.7 points per game last year. But he has made it a point to be a better passer this season and become more involved defensively.
"I wanted to come back and be an overall better player on both ends of the court," Thornton said. "I think that will lead me a long way in my career."
Thornton has been the starting shooting guard nearly his entire time in Sacramento.
But that could change as the Kings look to add size to the starting lineup. Six-foot-six Tyreke Evans could replace the 6-4 Thornton at shooting guard. Evans could be replaced at small forward in favor of a bigger wing player (James Johnson or Travis Outlaw).
The Kings are small at point guard with incumbent starter Isaiah Thomas, free agent Aaron Brooks and second-year player Jimmer Fredette.
Moving Evans would put Thornton on the bench unless Evans went back to small forward this season, which would still give the Kings a small starting lineup.
How would Thornton feel about being a reserve? It depends on how things go on the court.
"Coach is trying all different types of schemes," Thornton said. "Whatever it is, however it goes, if we're winning I'm fine with it."
Kings coach Keith Smart liked what he saw from Thornton during the preseason. Smart said Thornton's shot was off in camp partly because he was looking to involve his teammates more.
That selfless mindset carried over to Monday.
"He came by and said, 'Coach, I'm going to try and get everybody involved before I do what I can do, but I want to try and get everybody involved first,' " Smart said.
Smart likes the fact that Thornton is getting in the paint to make defensive plays.
But Thornton is at his best when his offense is good, and that was the case Monday once he got warmed up.
"Once he got going, he kind of became the focal point of that (second) unit," Smart said. "And we'll see how things go from here. He might be back in the lineup the next game."