SAN ANTONIO -- Rookie guard Ray McCallum hadn’t had much of a chance to play for the Kings this season.
With Jimmer Fredette out because of an illness, McCallum became the backup point guard and was able to play in the first half rather than when a game was already decided.
Against San Antonio on Saturday, McCallum matched his season high with 10 minutes and scored five points in relief of Isaiah Thomas in the Kings’ 95-93 loss to the Spurs.
“He hits a 3-pointer, he makes a drive to the basket to close the quarter,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “His defense was terrific. He was into guys, he was contesting. The biggest thing was he was poised and relaxed out there.”
McCallum began the day not knowing if he’d even play. If not for Fredette’s illness, McCallum probably would not have played.
McCallum said he was relaxed. After all, he practices against the Kings and had played before.
“I’ve been watching and learning all year,” McCallum said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and in my game, so when I get the chance to go out there I play relaxed and play my game and just try to help.”
That Malone praised McCallum’s defense could help the rookie in the future. Malone has been looking for players who will defend consistently, and that could be how McCallum earns playing time.
“That has to be one of his main jobs on this team,” McCallum said. “To come in and give these guys a rest, come in and play some defense and bring energy and try to wear down the other guy a little bit.”
Malone said McCallum is one of the hardest-working players on the team and deserves any success on the court.
“I’m very happy for him and his minutes (Saturday), and hopefully, we will be able to build on that,” Malone said.
New face – Injuries kept three of San Antonio’s top wing players out of the game. Without Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green, the Spurs started veteran Shannon Brown at small forward.
The Spurs signed Brown to a 10-day contract Saturday. Brown hadn’t played in the NBA since being cut by Washington after being traded there from Phoenix.
“We have to use those (starting) minutes so that those guys who know the system can be out there at the end of the game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Otherwise, they are going to be too tired at the end. (Brown) gave us good minutes so we could get everybody else in.”
Commemorative shirts – As part of the NBA’s plans to celebrate Black History Month, players wore specially designed shooting shirts for Saturday’s game.
The commemorative shirts honor four prominent African Americans: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Bill Russell.
Miami Heat guard Ray Allen helped design the shirts.