Kings taking their time with Vasquez through losses

11/08/2013 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 11:02 AM

Greivis Vasquez has shown in his brief time with the Kings he can be extremely positive and a team leader.

Vasquez is also a realist. He knows the Kings need more from him.

Vasquez was only cleared for contact Oct. 1 after sitting out five months following offseason ankle surgery. His play has been inconsistent to start the season.

Following a solid showing in the season opener with 17 points and four assists in 36 minutes, Vasquez hasn't played more than 24 minutes in a game.

He has 19 points on 5-of-17 shooting in the past three games, along with 11 assists, as the Kings take a three-game losing streak into tonight's clash in Portland.

"I need to produce more. I need to be who I am, but it takes a little bit of time," Vasquez said. "It's not going to be overnight. I believe in myself; I believe in what I can do. The only game that we won I think is because I had a solid game and I was able to close the game out with Isaiah (Thomas).

"It's a long season, and I don't really want to panic. I just want to be healthy, and I want to help the team win."

Having Vasquez healthy and on the floor is important for any success the Kings hope to have. He adds size, court vision and savvy that the Kings have lacked at point guard, but he can't show that if he's not feeling right physically and playing well.

Vasquez's upbeat outlook is needed on a team that's prone to lapsing into a doom-and-gloom funk with every mistake.

"He's a guy that is a leader, he's vocal, he's positive, he's passionate, and obviously he's a willing playmaker," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "Some guys in this league that play the point guard spot pass as a last resort. They are reluctant passers, whereas Greivis is a guy who probably gets more satisfaction from making a play for his teammates than he does from scoring himself."

Malone would like to finish games with Vasquez and Thomas but won't keep Vasquez on the court if he's not playing well.

Malone wants to see better ball containment on defense and Vasquez getting the Kings into their offense better, too.

Malone said a combination of Vasquez not being fully healthy and struggles on the court have forced the coach to limit his minutes the last three games.

Vasquez averaged a career-high 34.4 minutes last season with New Orleans while dealing with the ankle problems that led to the surgery.

"If Greivis is playing well, he's going to play more minutes," Malone said. "If he's struggling out there offensively or defensively, obviously I'll look to try to get Isaiah in the game, and eventually I may have to try to get Ray McCallum in the game, depending how the games are going and how well or poorly we're playing at that time."

Vasquez admitted being patient with the recovery process isn't easy. Though he's shown what he can do in spurts, he hasn't found his rhythm yet while still adjusting to a new team and system.

"I'm trying to make a play so hard that I ain't making the play that I really want to make," Vasquez said. "It's not that I'm playing awful, but it's not like I'm playing up to my potential."

Vasquez, however, remains confident he'll find his way. He's improved every season in the NBA and doesn't see why his fourth season should be different.

"I'm going to have a breakout game, I guarantee you that," Vasquez said. "I work too hard, and it's not like I'm just going to cross my arms. I take this personal, and I'm committed to do well. You step on the court, you want to do well; you don't want to play to lose."

Punishment issued – Atlanta rookie guard Dennis Schroder was suspended for Thursday night's game at Denver for striking Kings center DeMarcus Cousins in the groin Tuesday at Sleep Train Arena.

Schroder hit Cousins while going around a screen set by the Kings center with 9:54 to play. However, there was no foul called, which infuriated Cousins.

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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