Few NBA teams use big lineups.
It’s a reason Kings coach George Karl enjoys watching the Memphis Grizzlies.
Memphis started its two imposing big men, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, against the Kings on Saturday at FedExForum.
Many teams have gone away from the look. Some mimic the Golden State Warriors, who have dominated with small lineups.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Karl, however, appreciates Gasol and Randolph.
“I actually like watching them play because they know how to make the interior basketball game work,” Karl said. “And right now, there are a lot of teams and a lot of coaches that don’t even try to make it work.”
Karl has been comfortable with his full complement of big men this season. He’s noted how DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein improve the Kings’ defense.
Sacramento suffered when Cauley-Stein was out with a dislocated finger for most of December.
“There are so many teams playing small, you’re going to have to have a small lineup,” Karl said. “But without Willie, it hurt us because we didn’t have that ability to cover the (power forward) with a big man. Now, Willie gives us that ability, so if we want to play big and (opponents) go small, we’re going to do it.”
Bad meals – The Kings have been hit with gastroenteritis several times this season. The latest player to fall ill was guard Marco Belinelli, who missed Saturday’s game.
That makes four players and Karl who have been out with the illness this season. Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi and Koufos also have missed one or more games because of gastroenteritis.
“I’ve had situations where a flu bug hits you for two or three weeks and gets passed around a little bit,” Karl said. “I think this is food poisoning, so I hope it’s not going to be the flu lingering in our locker room. It doesn’t make you feel strong. You’re tired, worn down a little bit.”
Karl began feeling sick Thursday and was unable to coach that night at New Orleans. He rested Friday in Memphis.
“I’m coming along,” Karl said. “It’s been a long couple of days. It’s not been fun, but (Saturday) morning when I woke up, it looked like it was going to go away. Hopefully it will.”
Speed and defense – The Grizzlies have been trying to remain one of the league’s better defensive teams while playing faster on offense.
That’s a difficult transition.
“It takes years to be able to play a high pace at one end and still play hunkered-in, physical defense at the other end,” said Memphis coach Dave Joerger. “You need depth, and you need to play together for a long time to be able to do that. Our defense is always better when we play slow.”