. A few Kings can expect little rest this week.
The Kings began their first trip of four games in five nights this season with Tuesday’s 95-87 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Isaiah Thomas, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins figure to play heavy minutes all season and this trip will not change coach Michael Malone’s plans with his rotation as long as they are healthy and not in foul trouble. So if that means playing players extended minutes, he plans to do so.
“You have to do what’s best for your team,” Malone said.
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That means keeping his best players on the court as much possible.
“As this trip goes on and if I see guys where fatigue becomes a concern, we can shorten up their minutes and maybe not play them as long in stretches and utilize some guys to give those guys a rest,” Malone said. “I’m going to play it by ear as this trip goes on.”
No player has taken on a bigger role than Thomas, who is likely to play at least 40 minutes most nights. Thomas is averaging 38.8 minutes since last week’s trade sent starting point guard Greivis Vasquez to Toronto.
Thomas is averaging 29.9 minutes this season.
“By the end of the season he’ll probably up there in the leaders in minutes per game played because he’s that important to us,” Malone said.
Thomas hasn’t complained about playing more, saying he’s waited for the opportunity to play 40 minutes a night.
Malone plans to get the most out of Thomas.
“He’s a young kid in great condition,” Malone said of Thomas. “He wants to be out there. And if I see that he is struggling with his conditioning and it’s forcing him to make mental mistakes then I’ll get him out.”
Thinking big – The first shooting guard off the bench the last two games hasn’t been a shooting guard. Malone has opted to bring 6-foot-9 forward Travis Outlaw off the bench and use him and the 6-foot-8 Gay as guards behind rookie guard Ben McLemore.
“What I liked about it is we became very long and athletic out there on the perimeter,” Malone said. “At some points you had Derrick (Williams), Rudy and Travis out there and all those guys can switch screens, cover for each other and they all can make a play offensively. I liked it on both ends of the floor. We’ll continue to give it a look as the season goes along.”
That has again cut into the playing time for Marcus Thornton.
Thornton began the season as a starter but did not play at all Tuesday after playing seven minutes Sunday against Houston.
Thornton was pegged as a source of offense with the second unit, but Williams will be looked at to fill that void.
Acy’s addition – Forward Quincy Acy played a season-high 19 minutes in the loss in just his second game with the Kings.
Acy, acquired along with Gay and Aaron Gray in last week’s deal with Toronto, is quickly becoming a favorite of Malone.
“Toughness, motor, energy, defensive mindset – he brings all those things to the table and we need people like that,” Malone said. “Guys that embrace playing defense, not afraid to use their fouls and bring a physical mindset to the game. I just love how hard he plays.”