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  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    DeMarcus Cousins dunks in the first half for two of his 25 points. All five Kings starters scored in double figures.

  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Tyreke Evans loses the ball and his balance as he is fouled by Toronto's DeMar DeRozan (10) in the second half. Evans had 23 points.

  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    DeMarcus Cousins reaches for the ball during the first half. The center, who had been in a slump, had 25 points and 13 rebounds.

Kings notes: Smart hopes to stabilize rotation

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 - 4:16 pm

If the Kings can go a few games without key players missing time, coach Keith Smart would like to settle on a consistent player rotation.

With Tyreke Evans back after missing two games because of a bruised left knee, Smart can begin working on his rotation, which also was disrupted by suspensions.

"I thought I had that moving along when I changed the lineup," Smart said. "We finally had a lineup. I had five guys I was going to work with, and you saw chemistry developing, and obviously, the injury to Tyreke kind of set that back."

With Evans back, Marcus Thornton returned to his role as sixth man and primary scorer off the bench.

DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, John Salmons and Aaron Brooks are the other starters Smart has settled on.

Chuck Hayes and Thomas Robinson are the backup big men and James Johnson the primary wing player off the bench.

The one position that still hasn't been sorted out is backup point guard between Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas. Wednesday against Toronto, Fredette was the first point guard off the bench.

Ideally, Smart would have a set rotation with the ability to mix and match based on matchups.

For now, Smart would just like to have his lineup not change because of injuries or off-court issues.

"Hopefully, we have guys back in the lineup now and we can start building from there," Smart said. "And we can continue to solidify our bench and move forward, and those guys will continue to lock into those positions and every night we can have a nice, decent rotation."

Meeting again – Wednesday's game was Johnson's first against the Raptors since they traded him to the Kings over the summer.

Johnson began the season as the Kings' starting small forward but went to the bench after nine games.

In nine games as a starter, Johnson shot 31.8 percent. His minutes are down off the bench, but he entered Wednesday's game shooting 52.6 percent as a reserve.

Smart still would like to use Johnson as a defensive specialist.

"I think having that benefit of having him in that role can be good for our team," Smart said.

Smart said when he approached Johnson about making a lineup change, Johnson was planning to approach him about the same thing.

"He has been in great spirits about everything," Smart said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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