OAKLAND Jason Thompson has started a career-high 71 of 72 games he's played for the Kings this season.
That's noteworthy because last season Thompson was a reserve in games against perimeter-based power forwards, or "hybrid fours," more than once.
Coach Keith Smart said Thompson has done a better job of guarding those types of forwards.
Thompson will see that kind of forward tonight at Phoenix. Markieff Morris has attempted 113 three-pointers this season.
"I thought this year Jason did a pretty decent job," Smart said. "He's trying to get out there and guard some of those hybrid fours, and I thought overall he's done a decent job with that, so I didn't have to change a whole lot."
Thompson never doubted his ability to defend on the wing. The only game he didn't start was at New York, where the Knicks used Carmelo Anthony at power forward in their small-ball lineup.
But Smart's trust in Thompson has been a must, considering the Kings don't have the same options behind Thompson they've had in the past.
"Last year we had Donté Greene, and Greene was able to play some of the bigger size but still able to defend some of those hybrid fours," Smart said.
The player who might have filled Greene's role was James Johnson, who was not with the team for the ninth consecutive game for personal reasons.
Thompson's consistent play most of the season and Johnson's struggles on offense meant less time for Johnson.
"The whole deal with the trade (for Johnson from Toronto) was for him to be able to guard and play multiple positions," Smart said.
With the season winding down, Smart conceded that if and when Johnson returns, there might not be time to get him caught up and back on the court this season.
"It could be that way," Smart said. "We want to get him back with our team, but we want him to take care of all his personal side first. I want to make sure he's mentally secure with everything that's happening with him on his personal side before he comes back here and be in two places mentally."
Four-pointer Kings forward John Salmons opened Wednesday's game with a four-point play after being fouled on a made three-pointer.
Salmons also had a four-point play March 3 against Charlotte.