Critics of Rudy Gay over the years often pointed to his offensive game, most citing his inefficient stint with the Toronto Raptors.
But the Kings haven’t had those concerns offensively. They need Gay to be more engaged defensively.
During the first quarter of Monday’s win over the Utah Jazz, Gay was benched after forward Gordon Hayward attacked the middle, to the dislike of coach Michael Malone.
Other small forwards such as the Raptors’ Terrence Ross and the Orlando Magic’s Tobias Harris have had good games against the Kings during DeMarcus Cousins’ absence.
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Gay acknowledges he has to do more defensively. Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, Gay was matched up at times with Kobe Bryant, who has free rein to shoot.
“I definitely take it personal,” Gay said of his feelings when Hayward started well Monday. “I think especially with DeMarcus out, a lot of times I’ve been settling and sitting back thinking I have him and we’ve kind of been containing (wing players) this year. But he’s not out there, so now I have to be more aggressive on both ends.”
Malone agreed with Gay’s assessment.
“With DeMarcus out, he not only has to carry us offensively, but he also needs to set the tone defensively,” Malone said.
Social activism – The Lakers joined many NBA players who have worn “I Can’t Breathe” shirts recently.
The shirts quote the last words said repeatedly by Eric Garner, who died in July after being put in a chokehold by New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Last week, a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo in connection with Garner’s death, sparking protests across the country.
Several Lakers wore the shirts before the opening tip. The NBA has not fined any players for wearing the shirts, which are a violation of NBA uniform rules.
No Kings have worn the shirts before a game. Kings guard Ben McLemore did write “R.I.P. Mike Brown” on his shoes after Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for fatally shooting Brown, an unarmed teenager, on Aug. 9. McLemore is from nearby St. Louis.
No changes – The Kings stayed with Reggie Evans as their starting center for a second consecutive game.
Ryan Hollins started five games in Cousins’ place before Malone made the switch. Malone felt Hollins would help the second unit by giving Ramon Sessions a big man who can roll to the basket hard for lobs on pick-and-rolls.
“It wasn’t a demotion by any means for Ryan,” Malone said.
With Cousins out indefinitely because of viral meningitis, Malone will look at different lineups on a game-by-game basis.