Omri Casspi’s calf injury is costing him more time than expected.
The Kings forward was originally forecast to miss one to two weeks because of a strained right plantaris tendon, which he suffered in practice Jan. 16. But coach Dave Joerger said before Saturday’s game against the Warriors that Casspi might not return until the Kings return from the All-Star break, by which time he’d have missed more than a month.
“I don’t think we’re going to see Omri ’til after the All-Star break,” Joerger said. “That could change, but we’d rather be a little conservative with him.”
Casspi said during the Kings’ last trip he hoped to play this weekend after being re-evaluated last week. Joerger did not say whether Casspi suffered a setback.
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The Kings remain thin at the wing positions with Rudy Gay out for the season and Garrett Temple expected to be out until after the All-Star Game because of a hamstring injury.
Casspi was playing in a limited role even before his injury, appearing in 22 games while averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Guard Arron Afflalo, meanwhile, returned Saturday night after missing one game because of a stomach virus. Joerger used a smaller starting lineup against the Warriors featuring three guards in Darren Collison, Afflalo and Ben McLemore.
Ball handler – Center DeMarcus Cousins is slated to compete in the Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend, but he has already made an impression on the Kings this season with his well-roundedness.
Cousins recorded his second triple-double of the season Friday night with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists against Phoenix. He is averaging a career-high 4.6 assists as he finds more opportunities to be a facilitator in Joerger’s offense.
“He’s just been fantastic,” Joerger said. “He’s getting (the ball) in the post, he’s getting it at the elbow. He’s trying to be better in the sets at facilitating. And I think he looks to get different guys involved.”
Joerger said that is an indication of Cousins becoming more of a leader on the floor.
“A guy might miss a pass or miss a shot or something and he’s encouraging them, ‘Hey, don’t put your head down, let’s go for the next play,’ ” Joerger said. “
Cousins is actually the Kings’ assists leader this season, reflecting the extent to which the 6-foot-11 big is handling the ball.
“At his size, he can go down on the low block and you have to honor his scoring, so you send a double team sometimes, but he’s a great passer,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They’ve got guys cutting around him, and you’ve got to be precise with your rotations. Any decision you make to send help, you’d better have your timing right. Otherwise, he’ll make you pay.”
Et cetera – The last time these teams played, Kerr called a timeout just 18 seconds into the game after watching his team blow a defensive assignment. He said before Saturday’s game that was the first time he’d called a timeout after the first possession of the game, “and hopefully the last, too.”
The Kings then took a quick 6-0 lead Saturday night. Kerr did not call a timeout – and the Warriors responded with an 11-0 run.
▪ Before the game, the Kings recalled rookie center Georgios Papagiannis from the D-League. In 18 games for the Reno Bighorns, Papagiannis is averaging 12.9 points on 50.2 percent shooting, 8.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.