Kings coach Keith Smart says his starting lineup for Wednesday's opener in Chicago will start working more closely together as a unit in practices.

Kings notes: Team gets up for Lakers, even in exhibition play

Published: Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 - 12:14 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 - 2:26 pm

SAN DIEGO – Three of the Kings' final four preseason games were against the Los Angeles Lakers.

That included the preseason finale Thursday against the Lakers at Valley View Casino Center.

And even in the preseason, there's an excitement about playing an archrival.

"It's good for your team because it keeps them up on edge," said Kings coach Keith Smart.

Smart said even at morning shootaround there was more focus.

"When you pull out the Lakers, Boston, those kind of teams, you're going to be up to play, especially a young team," Smart said. "We're generally going to get good quality basketball from our guys because everyone wants to play teams like that. When you go out and play a game like this, everyone's senses are heightened."

But playing a team near the bottom of the standings remains a concern.

Last season the Kings had a habit of giving their worst effort against the worst teams.

"We want to get them to understand every game has to have that same attention," Smart said. "I probably don't have to worry about this team against any of the elite teams. But the other teams, in their minds, may look a little different."

Changing lineups – For just the second time this preseason, the Kings used a starting lineup twice.

Smart started Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, James Johnson, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins.

That group started Sunday's game against the Lakers in Los Angeles. The Kings used five different starting lineups in seven preseason games.

Smart said Monday the starters Thursday would start next Wednesday's season opener at Chicago. He changed his mind, however, and said not to read too much into the preseason finale.

Smart said the group that will start against the Bulls will begin working together more in practice.

Smart used different lineups in the preseason to study how different units functioned and combinations that he might use later in the season.

Excused – Rookie forward Thomas Robinson was not with the team for personal reasons. … John Salmons missed his sixth preseason game for personal reasons and still is not with the team.

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