Coach George Karl said he has no plans to change the starting frontcourt the Kings have used for the past three games, valuing the dimension added by forward Quincy Acy.
Acy replaced Willie Cauley-Stein in the starting five Feb. 19 against Denver and did not score in his first two starts. But Acy, whom Karl called “our energy bunny,” had a career-high three blocks in 13 minutes Tuesday against the Nuggets and made enough of an impact to remain in the lineup Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
“We put him in the lineup for energy and he gave it to us, and right now I’m not going to take him out,” Karl said. “We’re going to stay with it and rotate during the game, with hopefully he and Ben (McLemore) giving us some defensive dimension to start each half and hopefully … building on that as the game goes on.”
After matching up against Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried in the previous two games, Acy started Wednesday’s game guarding Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge, whom Karl said is clearly the Spurs’ “No. 1 option” right now. Within the first minute, Acy lit up the crowd with an emphatic dunk on a pass from Rajon Rondo and pounced on a rebound after a Spurs miss on the ensuing possession.
I think we see every night that he’s getting the confidence out there that he didn’t have a month ago.
George Karl, Kings coach, on Willie Cauley-Stein
Karl indicated the lineup change was not a slight toward the recent play of Cauley-Stein, who had scored in double figures in five of six games entering Wednesday. The rookie center also blocked a combined five shots in the two games against Denver and ranked fourth among NBA rookies averaging 1.22 blocks per game.
“I think we see every night that he’s getting the confidence out there that he didn’t have a month ago,” Karl said.
Cauley-Stein said he didn’t view the lineup change as a demotion and is open to whatever role Karl has for him.
“I’m going to play the same regardless of if I’m starting or coming off the bench,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’m just so strong mentally right now. I’m in a good place where there’s not much anybody’s going to do to shake me.”
Earning minutes – Karl said he does feel he needs to give Darren Collison more minutes because of how well the backup point guard has been playing lately.
Collison entered Wednesday’s game averaging 17.3 points on 56.7 percent shooting over his previous nine games. Collison was also averaging 2.6 assists and a steal in that span.
“He’s been a mid-20s to 30-(minute) guy,” Karl said. “Now I think he’s got to be a 30-minute guy every night.”
Collison was the first Kings reserve to check in Wednesday, replacing McLemore at the 5:19 mark in the first quarter. That left Collison playing alongside Rondo, a configuration that Karl said “didn’t work” early in the season but has become more productive as the two guards have become comfortable sharing the floor.
No sentiment – With Sleep Train Arena in its final season, opponents visiting for the last time have been asked to share their memories of the Kings’ longtime home. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can be famously stingy with the media, but a reporter asked him anyway.
“I just remember the team (the Kings) had (in the early 2000s),” Popovich said. “I don’t really remember buildings that much. But they had one heck of a team, that’s for sure.”
Dukan recalled – The Kings recalled forward Duje Dukan from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League. In 16 games for Reno this season, Dukan is averaging 13.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 27.7 minutes. Dukan was inactive for Wednesday’s game.