Rudy Gay is the Kings’ second-leading scorer this season at 17.9 points per game. But with the news that Gay would miss Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, coach George Karl lamented the loss of one of his better defenders.
That’s not what Gay is known for, but Karl said the forward’s defense would be missed at Sleep Train Arena as he sat out with a left heel contusion.
“Rudy’s actually, I think, been playing at a really good level defensively,” Karl said. “The last 10, 15 games, he’s done a really good job of focusing and improving his defense.”
Gay matched his career high with six blocked shots in Wednesday’s win against the Lakers in Los Angeles. He injured his heel during the victory.
For the season, Gay’s percentage points different is minus-1.9, trailing only DeMarcus Cousins (-2.4) for lowest on the Kings. The statistic measures the opponent’s shooting normal overall percentage versus when guarded by that player.
Cousins and Gay are the Kings’ only regulars who are in the negative this season.
Omri Casspi started for Gay on Thursday.
All-Star thoughts – The NBA on Thursday announced the starting lineups for next month’s NBA All-Star Game as voted by fans.
No Kings were close to being elected. Rajon Rondo finished seventh among Western Conference guards.
Cousins finished 10th among Western Conference frontcourt players. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver chose Cousins for last year’s All-Star Game as a replacement for injured Kobe Bryant.
Karl was asked if he was surprised that after so many years and expansion that All-Star Game rosters have not been expanded beyond 12.
During the regular season, teams have 13 active players and can carry up to 15 on the roster.
“I think the league has done a great job of sustaining it as a showcase,” Karl said. “There’s always going to be a half dozen players out there that are going to be disappointed in the next week or so when the second tier of selections (for reserves) are made.”
Cousins appears to have a good chance of making the team. Rondo, who leads the NBA in assists (11.7), will have a tougher time considering the depth at guard in the West.
The reserves, as voted on by coaches, will be announced next Thursday.
A little improvement – The Kings are slightly ahead of last season’s pace in wins.
Sacramento entered Thursday 18-23 at the midway point of the season. The Kings were 16-25 at that stage last season.