The NBA today will announce the reserves for next month’s All-Star Game, and the Kings believe center DeMarcus Cousins should be in New Orleans as a reserve.
But after seeing rookie guard Ben McLemore excluded from the Rising Stars Challenge, which features the league’s best first- and second-year players, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cousins bypassed.
“Nothing shocks me in this business,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “I was shocked (Wednesday) when Ben McLemore didn’t make the rookie-sophomore game. When it’s out of your hands and there’s nothing you can do, you hope for the best. If Ben makes that game or if DeMarcus makes the All-Star Game or not, we believe in those guys.”
McLemore was the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November and was fifth among rookies in scoring at 8.0 points per game entering Wednesday’s game against Memphis. NBA assistant coaches vote to determine participants in the game.
McLemore admitted he was surprised he didn’t make the roster.
“I’m pretty sure everybody was surprised,” he said. “But at the same time, it was their decision about who they wanted to be in the game, and I’m not mad at all.”
McLemore was informed of several players who have had solid careers despite not playing in the game, including Paul George, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and LaMarcus Aldridge, all of whom have become All-Stars.
McLemore received the message clearly.
“Not making this rookie game is not the end of Ben McLemore,” he said. “I’ve still just got to go out there and think about (Wednesday’s) game.”
Cousins, meanwhile, missed his fourth game in a row because of a sprained left ankle. Malone believes Cousins has done enough to warrant playing in the league’s showcase game.
“I really hope that (Cousins is) an All-Star, but my No. 1 concern is his health,” Malone said.
Historic fill-in – Jaime Coffee has been a public address announcer at Sleep Train Arena before, but her appearance Wednesday was noteworthy.
Coffee filled in for Scott Moak, who missed his first game in 12 years because of illness. Coffee is believed to be the first female public address announcer in NBA history.
She served in the same capacity for the WNBA’s Monarchs from 2001 to 2009 and announces for Sacramento State basketball.
New-look Johnson – The Grizzlies continue to be pleased with former King James Johnson, who signed with the team Dec. 16 and has been a source of energy on a veteran squad.
“He really leaned up his body and has become very lively,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “He looks like he’s going 90,000 miles an hour.”
Johnson entered the game averaging 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots.
“He’s been a good energy guy and he makes plays,” Joerger said. “Sometimes some (plays) that you go, ‘Ooh, what were you thinking there?’ But the good outweighs the bad and his teammates like playing with him because he plays so hard.”