Kings don't want to end up on posters against Clippers

Published: Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013 - 7:56 am

There are several ways Kings coach Keith Smart could appeal to his team to maintain its defensive focus tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers.

One way might be to appeal to the players' pride.

Be in the right spots or you might end up like Brandon Knight, Kendrick Perkins and Timofey Mozgov – on the wrong end of another Clippers highlight.

"They've got to be there (tonight)," Smart said. "If not, there will be posters."

Those poster plays could come at any time with All-Star guard Chris Paul directing the offense and two supreme finishers at power forward and center.

"We tried to simulate some of the things that Blake Griffin will do and DeAndre Jordan," Smart said. "But we couldn't simulate those things because they're a little bit higher."

The leaping ability of Griffin and Jordan means they could be set up for a lob dunk from unexpected spots on the floor if Kings defenders relax.

"Here's a team with two guys that have a huge catch window where the ball can be thrown, and they also pass to each other," Smart said.

The Griffin-Jordan combo figures to put more stress on the Kings' defense, which has struggled most of the season.

In Sunday's 113-102 loss to the Lakers, Smart said the Kings gave up 52 points on 42 pick-and-roll plays, largely because of problems with weak-side defense.

Paul and his bigs have the ability to exploit those mistakes, so communicating and keeping contact with Griffin and Jordan are priorities.

"Their athleticism is out of this world," Kings forward Patrick Patterson said. "Running with them in transition, trying to get back to limit as many lobs as possible (are priorities)."

The Kings also would benefit from improved health. Center DeMarcus Cousins returned to practice Monday after missing two games because of a left quadriceps contusion.

"Still not exactly where I want it to be, but it feels better," he said.

Cousins, who wore a pad on his thigh to finish practice after bumping the injured area, said he would play tonight, barring any setbacks.

Smart said he would monitor Cousins' conditioning before deciding whether chasing Griffin and Jordan would be a problem.

That could be especially problematic when the Clippers use Griffin at center.

Smart would like to leave Cousins in the game in that situation, where he could have the advantage on offense.

"That's probably going to happen because that's what they did a lot of (Sunday)," Smart said of the Clippers, who played Griffin at center in a 93-80 victory over the Knicks. "That could be a problem. But you have to see where (Cousins') conditioning is going to be."

Cousins was listed as questionable.

Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who sat out practice because of a sore right foot, also is listed as questionable.

Chuck Hayes missed practice for personal reasons, and James Johnson remained away from the team for personal reasons.

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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