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  • Jose Luis Villegas /

    Sacramento Kings DeMarcus Cousins prepares with less than a minute in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, October 30, 2013, the NBA season opener between the Sacramento Kings and the Denver Nuggets at Sleep Train Arena.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. /

    Sacramento Kings small forward Rudy Gay react after called for loose ball foul against Houston Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons (25) in the second half in a game at Sleep Train Arena Sunday Dec. 15, 2013 in Sacramento, Calif.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas reacts by throwing his head band in the air after missing a 14-footer to end the game during the Kings 97-95 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif.

Kings get more players involved, which benefits everyone

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 - 5:36 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 - 4:28 pm

The Kings know the bulk of their scoring most nights will come from veterans DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay.

So how does coach Michael Malone like to start games?

He looks for rookie Ben McLemore.

“I try to go to him early in the games to make sure he gets touches to try to get him into a rhythm and off to a good start,” Malone said.

Whether it’s McLemore or Jason Thompson in the starting lineup or Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton or Derrick Williams off the bench, Malone is looking for other players to add scoring so the Kings do not rely too heavily on their big three.

In Tuesday’s 110-106 win at Houston, Thornton had 15 points, McLemore 13 and Fredette 10. McLemore had seven points in the first quarter.

“Having three others guys add to DeMarcus, Isaiah and Rudy obviously makes us a very tough team to defend,” Malone said.

Malone said how playing time unfolded and how players filled in against the Rockets was ideal. McLemore and Cousins were in foul trouble early, but the Kings got enough offense from Thornton to support Gay in the first half before Cousins got going in the second half.

“(McLemore) gets in foul trouble guarding a very good player in James Harden, and Marcus Thornton comes in and picks up the scoring slack,” Malone said. “Jimmer in that fourth quarter I thought was terrific. He played with confidence, he played both ends of the floor and made some big baskets.”

Involving more players in the offense not only makes the Kings tougher to defend but keeps everyone engaged. The Kings are trying to become better at not allowing struggles on offense affect their defense, and when players feel as if they aren’t involved, it increases the chances their defense will suffer.

“I hope it carries over like that,” Thornton said. “Us scoring like that, it becomes fun when we’re sharing the ball. It’s fun when you get going and know your teammates are sharing the ball with you.”

Malone’s use of the bench has evolved over the past 10 games since Gay joined the lineup after being acquired from Toronto.

Quincy Acy, another player acquired in that deal, has become a player Malone has grown to trust. Thornton has gone from out of the rotation to playing again. Williams has taken on a reserve role, and Fredette’s role has expanded.

Fredette had been used sparingly by Malone, playing fewer than 10 minutes five times after the deal in December. But in the past four games, Fredette has played at least 12 minutes, the longest stretch playing that many minutes this season.

“Hopefully, I continue to be out there and help this team and continue to gain more of (Malone’s) trust,” Fredette said. “I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well lately and doing what I can when I’m out there and helping this team get some wins and be in some games, so it’s been good.”

Malone said he couldn’t continue to play Thomas for the entire second half of games and not expect him to become fatigued. Giving Fredette more minutes has allowed Thomas to rest – and helped Fredette’s confidence.

“I’m going to play Isaiah most of the third quarter and let (Fredette) start the fourth,” Malone said. “And I’ve been playing him extended minutes because he’s been playing well, which is a credit to Jimmer. It allows Isaiah to get a rest ... he’s coming in fresher. You don’t want him fatigued where you start making mental mistakes out there. Jimmer is playing so well it’s going to allow Isaiah to get that rest.”

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

Read more articles by Jason Jones

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