MINNEAPOLIS -- The Kings have tried Marcus Thornton and Ben McLemore as the starting shooting guard this season. The one constant has been both have struggled with their shot.
Kings coach Michael Malone said it’s not an easy job for either player in the starting lineup with DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas.
Thornton has always been a scorer and the Kings believe McLemore will become a proficient shot maker. But there aren’t many shots to go around in the starting lineup.
Thornton is shooting 36.4 percent after missing all five of his attempts in the Kings’ 111-108 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
“In defense of Ben and Marcus,” Malone said, “when you’re playing with three volume shooters and scorers in Rudy, Isaiah and DeMarcus, it’s tough for (starting power forward) Jason (Thompson) and whoever that two guard is. Right now it’s Marcus Thornton. You don’t get a rhythm a lot of times because the other guys are touching it so much and scoring so much. But what I like about Marcus is defensively he fights.”
Defense was a big reason Malone went back to Thornton in the starting lineup ahead of McLemore, who is shooting 35.9 percent.
Thornton has never been noted as a defensive player, but his experience gives him an edge over McLemore, a rookie.
Thornton has also made an effort to become a better defender and rebounder this season.
“I like the fact that he’s competing and playing at a high level on the defensive end, and he’ll continue to help us,” Malone said. “And hopefully get his shot going and don’t settle for the jump shot.”
Working his way back – When the Kings traded forward Luc Mbah a Moute to Minnesota for forward Derrick Williams on Nov. 26, they knew they were trading their best defender.
The Timberwolves were happy to add Mbah a Moute’s defense, but as was the case with the Kings, an injury has slowed him.
Mbah a Moute missed three games this month with a strained left groin and is now finding playing time hard to come by.
“He was playing off the bench, he got hurt and when he came back, Chase (Budinger) came back at the same time,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. “There’s only so many minutes for people, and I’m trying to get a feel for people. And he certainly is a very good defender, probably the best one we have among the perimeter people. He’s just trying to find himself offensively.”
Mbah a Moute is healthy but did not play against the Kings.
Still streaking – Thomas extended his streak of games with a 3-pointer to 31 by making one in the third quarter. He’s four behind Peja Stojakovic for the third-longest streak in franchise history. Mitch Richmond (39) and Stojakovic (36) have the top two streaks.