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Change to smaller lineup gives Kings more options on defense, too

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The Kings might be using a smaller starting lineup, but that doesn’t mean coach Dave Joerger wants the team to get away from playing defense.

Joerger sees advantages to the small lineup defensively.

“We can extend a little bit, we can take away some things,” Joerger said. “Everybody likes to swing the ball but what if you deny the swing pass?”

Joerger stayed with DeMarcus Cousins on Wednesday at center rather than power forward when the Kings hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden 1 Center. Rudy Gay and Matt Barnes remained as forwards. The backcourt was different as Ty Lawson came off the bench for the first time this season.

Darren Collison started at point guard with Arron Afflalo at the other guard. It marked the third straight game the Kings had a different starting unit, and the second in which Joerger opened with a smaller lineup and did not start center Kosta Koufos with Cousins.

Joerger said staying small gives him flexibility with defensive assignments, too.

“If you’re a little bit more agile, a little bit more switchable where teams try to hurt you against your schemes, switching kind of nullifies a lot of that stuff,” Joerger said. “We don’t do as much switching as they did last year but we’ll switch on occasion, especially with guys that are the same size.”

Raptors protest – Joerger was asked about the Toronto Raptors filing a formal protest of Sunday’s game against the Kings.

It appeared Terrence Ross had sent the game to overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. But a clock malfunction led to the clock not starting on time, and after official review, it was ruled Ross’ shot came after time would have expired.

There were 2.4 seconds left in the game when Cousins deflected DeMarre Carroll’s inbound pass, but the clock did not start on the deflection. It was ruled 2.5 seconds elapsed by time Ross got his shot off and the Kings won, 102-99.

“Yeah I’ve been through it before,” said Joerger, recounting how a win in November 2014 by his Memphis team was protested by Sacramento. “There’s advantages and disadvantages of the replay system but at the end of the day what it’s there for is to get it right.”

Rookie news – The Kings recalled all three of their rookies from their NBA Development League team in Reno in time for Wednesday’s game.

Guard Malachi Richardson is the D-League’s fourth-leading scorer, averaging 24.4 points in five games. He hit a deep, fadeaway jumper that gave Reno a 110-108 win over Texas on Tuesday.

Forward Skal Labissiere averaged 10 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in five games. Center George Papagiannis averaged 10.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in four games with the Bighorns.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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