Kings notes: Hickson rebounds nicely with Blazers

Published: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 - 10:53 pm

PORTLAND – J.J. Hickson has become a prolific rebounder in his fifth NBA season.

For the Kings, it's a season too late. The Kings traded for Hickson just before last July's NBA lockout, hoping he'd be an athletic complement to center DeMarcus Cousins.

That didn't work out as Hickson averaged 5.1 rebounds and shot 37 percent from the field before being bought out and waived March 19.

Hickson was claimed by Portland and is averaging 11.1 rebounds after grabbing 14 in the Trail Blazers' 109-91 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden. He also scored 17 points.

"It's a different system, different situation, different personalities on the club," Hickson said. "And we're just playing good basketball."

Kings coach Keith Smart said the opportunity for Hickson to play next to All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has helped Hickson.

"He's playing with a power forward who really is a low-post scorer," Smart said. "He's really not playing the power-forward position where we tried to play him last (season). It just wasn't something he had adjusted to yet. He's playing more center than he is power forward with Aldridge playing the bulk of the minutes there."

Playing center wasn't an option with the Kings because of Cousins. Jason Thompson proved to be a better fit alongside Cousins.

In addition to more than doubling his rebounding output from his time with the Kings, Hickson is shooting 57 percent, a career high, as is his rebounding average.

"(Aldridge) makes my job real easy because he gets double-teamed in the post," Hickson said. "When he's out there, all the attention goes toward him."

At 6-foot-9, Hickson doesn't have the ideal height for a center. Smart said Hickson overcomes that with quickness. Hickson credits that and tenacity with allowing him to get rebounds against bigger players.

"Just me not quitting on plays," Hickson said. "Just me going after every rebound and just wanting the ball more than the opponent."

Smart wanted Hickson to be an energy player who could run the floor hard and rebound well. Hickson has done that for Portland.

"I'm happy for him," Smart said. "He got an opportunity to be here and play well here and do the things he's capable of doing. And obviously, having a guy like Aldridge opens up things for you."

Garcia back in uniform – Guard/forward Francisco Garcia played 19 minutes after missing the previous two games because of a sore lower back. Marcus Thornton remained in the starting lineup.

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