LOS ANGELES -- The Kings plan to matchup with the Lakers and play a smaller lineup tonight at Staples center with DeMarcus Cousins suspended for the game.
“Obviously we’re without our best player tonight be we have plenty of other bodies that are ready to accept this challenge,” said Kings coach Michael Malone.
Malone said his starting lineup would probably have Jason Thompson starting at center with Derrick Williams playing power forward. Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore and Isaiah Thomas are the other starters.
The moves are necessary because Cousins was suspended for punching Houston guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach during Tuesday’s loss to the Rockets.
No foul was called on the play but the league did not overlook the shot to Beverley’s gut.
“A lot of people weren’t even aware that the play happened during the game,” Malone said. “But obviously when it was brought to our attention, I was not completely surprised by the league’s decision to suspend him for a game.”
It is the kind of behavior that’s been a problem for Cousins in his career. It’s his second suspension for striking an opponent in the last two seasons.
The Kings still rewarded Cousins with a four-year contract extension worth $62 million before the season.
But incidents like Tuesday, which also included Cousins being ejected and being fined $20,000 for verbally abusing officials.
“We made him our franchise player,” Malone said. “We need him to be a leader at all times. I know he feels bad for his actions.”