Kings notes: Slow starts concern Malone

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4C

Kings coach Michael Malone isn't panicking after two losses in three games.

But that doesn't mean Malone will allow things certain things to continue.

Malone said the Kings have lost consecutive games to two of the best teams in the Western Conference in the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors.

Malone, however, won't use that as an excuse to accept slow starts to games from his starting lineup.

"I want to give this group an opportunity before we make changes, but I will also say this starting lineup is not set in stone for 82 games," Malone said of the bunch that scored just 22 points Saturday at Golden State.

The Kings fell behind early against the Warriors and also trailed by double digits against the Clippers after the starters allowed big runs in both games.

"We will constantly evaluate and analyze what lineup, what personnel is giving us the best chance to get off to a good start," Malone said. "Because our starts have not been where we need to be – we keep digging ourselves holes – as well what group gives us the best chance to close out games."

Through three games, center DeMarcus Cousins is the only starter averaging double figures in scoring, and the defense has been spotty, leaving three-point shooters open too often.

Opponents are making 42.4 percent of their three-point attempts, 27th in the NBA.

"We can't let our offense dictate the way we play defensively," said starting forward Patrick Patterson. "We can't be an offensive-minded team anymore. I think there's still some of us that worry more about offense than defense, some of us that rely on others more than we should. We have to focus a lot more on defense."

Guarded talk – Jimmer Fredette is behind Marcus Thornton and Ben McLemore at shooting guard, but Malone hasn't ruled out going to Fredette if the Kings play poorly.

"Right now, his role is limited, obviously, but that can change with this group in a pretty quick manner, I guess," Malone said.

Thornton is averaging 9.3 points through three games on 37.0 percent shooting. Malone is content to bring McLemore off the bench, and the Kings continue to rave about the rookie's progress.

So if Fredette is going to play, he'll have to supplant Thornton.

"We're giving Marcus the opportunity (to start), but the reality is if we continue to struggle, we will not just stay with a lineup to say, 'These are our starters,' " Malone said.

Fredette said his role is to remain patient and professional.

"I know that I'm not in the rotation right now," Fredette said. "Mentally, you have to be prepared for that, but you also have to be ready in case something happens."

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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