The scoring breakdown for the Kings in the fourth quarter of their loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night was telling.
DeMarcus Cousins, Arron Afflalo and Rudy Gay combined for 23 points. All other Kings players combined for zero.
While that is probably less balance than Dave Joerger would like, the Kings’ first-year coach acknowledged he is still trying to work out the best way to spread the offense between his premier scorers.
“We’ve got Arron, Rudy and DeMarcus as feature guys,” Joerger said prior to Saturday’s game against the Timberwolves. “They need to get (the ball), and they’re kind of – they can all isolate very well.
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“So what can happen is, as a coach, you start trying to figure out, OK it’s your turn, it’s your turn, it’s your turn, back and forth. And sometimes your other guys can get mixed. So how you work that out is what I’m going through right now.”
In the Kings’ first two games, Cousins, Gay and Afflalo took 46.8 percent of the Kings’ shot attempts. Gay and Cousins led the Kings down the stretch in their season-opening win in Phoenix, while Cousins accounted for 17 of the Kings’ 23 fourth-quarter points against the Spurs on Thursday.
Gay shot just 3 for 10 from the field against San Antonio but attempted 12 free throws and finished with 17 points. Joerger said afterward he needs to “find a way to get (Gay) some better looks.”
Point guard Ty Lawson, an effective scorer in his NBA career, is taking less of a scoring role while adapting to a slower-paced offense. Of the other returning Kings (besides Gay and Cousins) who averaged double-figure scoring last season, Darren Collison is serving an eight-game suspension and Omri Casspi had logged just nine minutes in the Kings’ first two games.
“My job is to get our best players shots,” Joerger said. “Rudy needs shots, DeMarcus needs shots, Arron Afflalo needs shots. And it’s everybody else’s job to play off those guys, try to create a system where complementary guys can be as good as possible.”
Thibs’ Wolves – While on hiatus from head coaching last season, Tom Thibodeau spent a few days with the Kings during a trip in March, sharing his defensive philosophies and observing the Kings’ offense under then-coach George Karl.
Thibodeau did not remain out of a job for long. A little more than a month after his visit with the Kings, Minnesota named Thibodeau to its open head coaching position.
“I was prepared to sit out another year,” Thibodeau said Saturday. “Some of the things I was looking for was ownership, a good young core and salary-cap space. And initially I thought I would talk to a bunch of teams, but (Minnesota) happened to be the first one and it just felt right.”
Thibodeau inherited a Timberwolves team that went 29-53 last season. Joerger said he expects Minnesota to improve quickly under Thibodeau.
“I expect them to be in the 40-win range, competing for a playoff spot,” Joerger said. “They’re talented.”