Perhaps Houston Rockets fans will get used to not seeing DeMarcus Cousins play at Toyota Center.
Cousins sat out last season’s finale at the Rockets as the team benched its regulars to position itself for another loss and secure its draft pick.
Cousins had a scheduled night off against the Rockets on Wednesday. Complicating that decision was that the Kings were already without two starters. Rudy Gay (strained right hip flexor) and Ben McLemore (left quad contusion) were injured during Monday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Without Cousins and Gay, the Kings lacked their two leading scorers. Omri Casspi and Garrett Temple made their first starts of the season in place of Gay and McLemore.
“I decided four or five days ago this is when we would do it (rest Cousins),” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “And then of course, Rudy gets hurt, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Joerger said even after learning he’d be without Gay and McLemore, resting Cousins as part of his three days off was still “the best thing for us long term.”
The Kings next play Friday at Memphis.
“There’s just different points during the season where it looks like he’s carrying quite a load, and I don’t mean by weight,” Joerger said. “Getting 30 something (points) a night, 15, 16 boards, he’s gotta do some of this, some of that. Sometimes it’s just good to get a break.”
Rookies on the bench – The Kings recalled two of their three rookies from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League.
Forward Skal Labissiere and guard Malachi Richardson were up for the game against the Rockets.
Richardson is averaging 21 points in 11 games (10 starts) with the Bighorns, shooting 44 percent from 3-point range and 42.6 percent overall. He’s also averaging 4.3 rebounds.
Labissiere has started 11 games for Reno, averaging 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Against the Rockets, Richardson had seven points, three rebounds and two assists in 12 minutes. Labissiere played seven minutes and had two points and a rebound.
No matter how much they play, being with the Kings is beneficial, Joerger said.
“It’s also good for them to spend some time (with the Kings),” Joerger said. “That’s a good experience for them (with Reno), and this will be a good experience for them whether they’re playing or not. They’re insurance in a blowout situation, and get them familiar and maybe get them in some games, too.”
Back in uniform – Matt Barnes played after sitting out two of the previous three games for rest. Joerger plans to rest Barnes, who at 36 is the oldest player on the team, at least once a week.