Hector Amezcua hamezcua@sacbee.com The Kings' John Salmons drives to the basket against Portland's Sasha Pavlovic last week.

Kings notes: Salmons' experience leads to starting role

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3C

The Kings traded for John Salmons before the 2011 NBA draft to provide stability to a young starting lineup.

And in the midst of the team's worst start since the 1990-91 season, Kings coach Keith Smart is turning to the swingman again.

Salmons started Sunday's 99-90 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, two days after he called a players-only meeting following Friday's discouraging loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

"I've been a starter and I've come off the bench before," Salmons said. "I'm just trying to help the team win. Whatever I've got to do. That's all that really matters. It doesn't matter if you're starting or not."

Salmons averaged 7.5 points last season, his lowest total since the 2005-06 season with Philadelphia. Brought in as a starter to improve the Kings' perimeter shooting, Salmons shot 29.5 percent from three-point range, the lowest figure of his career.

That led Smart to sit Salmons and move Tyreke Evans to small forward from point guard.

Before this season, Salmons missed most of training camp to be with his wife during complications with the birth of their third child. His absence was not a factor, since Salmons didn't appear to be a solution this early in the season.

Smart was happy with the size and defense that forward James Johnson added to the 2012-13 lineup. But after struggling on offense in nine games, Johnson is on the bench.

Johnson is shooting 33.3 percent and has not made a three-pointer. Salmons has played in five games, averaging 5.6 points.

Even though the Kings (2-8) lost their fifth consecutive game Sunday, Salmons said there was progress.

"We definitely played better than we had been playing over the last few," Salmons said. "Hopefully we can keep going in the right direction. That's all we can do."

Bench marks – Even as the Kings shuffle the starting lineup, the bench will be an important part of their production.

Sacramento's reserves average 37.4 points, while opposing reserves average 31.8 points. The Kings' bench has outscored its counterparts in seven of 10 games.

That wasn't the case in Sunday's loss when Brooklyn benefited from 52 bench points while the Kings managed 26.

Marcus Thornton scored 12 of the points on 4-of-13 shooting.

One of the key contributors from the second unit, Aaron Brooks, is now starting.

Jimmer Fredette, who has been productive with extended minutes, scored just three points in a little more than 10 minutes.

Coaching carousel – If Mike D'Antoni coaches against the Kings on Wednesday at Sleep Train Arena, he will be the third Lakers coach the Kings have seen this season.

Mike Brown coached the Lakers in three preseason losses to Sacramento but later was fired. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff led the Lakers to a regular-season win in Los Angeles on Nov. 11.

D'Antoni is recovering from knee replacement surgery.

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