LAS VEGAS – Scoring around the rim isn't as simple as telling DeMarcus Cousins to camp out 5 feet away and bully his way to the basket.
For Cousins to work better in the post, the entire offense has to flow, which it did in the Kings' 104-86 exhibition win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
Kings coach Michael Malone would like to play inside-out, with Cousins working as a facilitator for teammates in some halfcourt sets, but said it's not only Cousins' responsibility to post up and make something happen.
"We have to do a better job of occupying the defense when he does post up," Malone said before Cousins collected 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Lakers. "We just can't sit there."
Cousins said Malone's offensive sets are giving him freedom to make plays, especially when the Kings have the proper spacing on offense and aren't stubbornly playing one-on-one.
"There's a time to run an iso (isolation play); there's a time to run a set," Cousins said. "All that comes into play and makes the game so much easier."
Malone doesn't want to limit Cousins to playing in the post. Malone sees Cousins as a big man who can operate from the high post to shoot, drive and set up teammates.
The first-year head coach has experience with that from his last job as an assistant coach at Golden State.
"People (who) have watched (the Warriors) play the last couple years, we had two bigs in Andrew Bogut and David Lee who were both very good passers, and we played through them on the elbows and through the high post at times," Malone said. "That's our job as a coaching staff and my job as the head coach, to put (Cousins) in the position that's most effective – not only for himself but also for his teammates."
Cousins stresses that the Kings still have a lot to learn under Malone. But Cousins believes the coach has established a solid foundation.
"Our base is set," Cousins said. "That's something we never had before. I'm not saying we're going to be a championship team, but just that alone is helping us become a better team."
Notes – Malone is serious about giving all the returning Kings the opportunity to prove they deserve playing time.
That's why he started Travis Outlaw on Thursday.
Considered a long shot for playing time after two nondescript seasons in Sacramento, Outlaw scored a team-high 18 points against the Lakers.
"I feel like (Malone) does a great job of trying to fit everybody into the puzzle," Outlaw said.
Malone is trying Outlaw at small and power forward.
"Travis shot the ball well (against the Lakers)," Malone said. "He did some really nice things on defense as well. I'm proud of him, and my challenge to him now is that I expect that on a consistent basis."
The Kings had Friday off and will practice today. Their 2013 preseason home debut is Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.