Hector Amezcua hamezcua@sacbee.com Kings guard Tyreke Evans, shown leading a fast break during preseason action, isn't sure what his role will be for the opener at Chicago on Wednesday.

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Sacramento Kings preseason not bad – now it's for real

Published: Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 - 2:27 pm

Thomas Robinson is a rookie, but he doesn't have to be a veteran to realize it's what matters from now on that counts.

So when asked about what could be gained from beating the Los Angeles Lakers, a championship contender, three times in exhibition play, Robinson answered like an old pro.

"Nothing," Robinson said. "It's preseason."

The Kings have reason to like the progress that was made during the preseason. Sacramento finished 5-2, the most preseason wins since 2006.

The exhibition wins have been important in building confidence and trust on and off the court. But there is no trophy for beating the Lakers three times in preseason.

"Preseason is always going to be preseason, but we have a long ways to go if we want to make these playoffs," said forward James Johnson. "I've been on a playoff team before. We're not far away, but as long as we keep buying in and sticking to our principles, we're going to be fine."

Opponents shot 44 percent against the Kings in the preseason, a mark that would be nice if it carried over into the regular season.

It would be a big improvement over the 47.6 percent that opponents shot last season, the worst in the NBA.

Opponents scored 104.4 points per game against the Kings last season and averaged 96.6 points in the preseason.

"Stats don't matter," Robinson said. "Wins don't matter, losses don't matter. It was good, we got some good things out of it and hopefully it will carry over into the regular season, but it doesn't matter."

The Kings still have some things to sort out before the season opener – for one, coach Keith Smart hasn't announced his starting lineup.

The only certainty from the start of training camp was DeMarcus Cousins would start at center.

"Whatever's out there, that's what I'm going to have to play with," Cousins said. "We tried different (players) and I believe we found the one, the last from the last game."

That group would be Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Johnson, Jason Thompson and Cousins.

Smart said Monday the five that started Thursday's preseason finale would start in the season opener next Wednesday at Chicago, only to backtrack two days later.

Cousins said there hasn't been much dialogue among players about the starting lineup. Smart has committed to playing at least 10 players most nights, so there should be time for the regulars.

"That's not our job," Cousins said. "Whoever (the coaches) decide to put out there, that's who they go with. That's not really something we talk about."

Evans sounds as if he'd like some clarity. He began last season as the starting point guard, was moved to small forward and filled in at shooting guard because of an injury to Marcus Thornton.

"I don't know what position I'm playing yet, first of all," Evans said. "I might play the four, I might start at five. I'm just going to work with it and do whatever I can do whenever I'm out there."

What was decided Friday was the number of players the Kings will carry for now.

The team waived Tony Mitchell, Hamady Ndiaye and Willie Reed to bring their roster to 14, one below the league maximum.

The Kings have until 2 p.m. Monday to decide on their final roster.

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