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Kings’ 3-point defense remains an issue

Lakers forward Brandon Ingram fires a 3-point shot against Kings forward Omri Casspi on Monday night at Golden 1 Center.
Lakers forward Brandon Ingram fires a 3-point shot against Kings forward Omri Casspi on Monday night at Golden 1 Center. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The 3-point line has been bad to the Kings on two fronts.

One is their struggles making them, which isn’t surprising given their lack of elite perimeter shooters.

And while the Kings aspire to be good on defense every night – and they have made strides – defending the 3 remains a problem.

Entering Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Golden 1 Center, the Kings were 25th in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to make 36.7 percent beyond the arc. With that kind of defense, it’s no shock that they’re allowing 28.5 attempts per game, seventh most in the NBA.

Their 10.5 makes allowed per game game from beyond the arc are tied for second most.

That could be a problem – and not only against the Lakers, who emphasize the 3-point shot. The Lakers’ 3-point shooting percentage dipped to 34.4 percent while D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young were out with injuries.

In their second game back, they went 3 of 5 combined from beyond the arc in the first quarter against the Kings.

Three-point defense also will be an issue on the three-game trip that starts Wednesday at Houston.

The last time the Kings faced the Rockets, they endured a record-setting barrage from 3-point range. Houston attempted an NBA-record 50 3s in a 117-104 victory at Golden 1 Center on Nov. 25. Houston made 21 3s that night.

Kings coach Dave Joerger is concerned about 3s the team has given up off offensive rebounds, one of the tougher shots to defend when players are out of position after pursuing the ball.

But the problem also goes back to the basics. Sacramento needs to defend better. That’s not about scheme; that’s a matter of personal responsibility because the Kings can’t give teams open shots and not expect to get burned.

“We’re not defending the basketball very well,” Joerger said. “So when we reach or we gamble ... it always seems like somebody’s open. Those are the shots you practice. You get open 3s, you’ve got to knock them down, and that’s what teams have done.”

The Rockets have made 37.7 percent from long range this season, tied for fifth in the league. The other two teams on the trip are Memphis and Dallas – which rank 24th and 25th, respectively – in 3-point percentage.

Memphis is at 33.2 percent, and Dallas at 33 percent.

The Kings must shore up things from deep soon, or Memphis and Dallas will improve their shooting numbers courtesy of bad defense.

Notes – Kings forward Matt Barnes was not in uniform Monday as he was given the night off to rest.

Joerger said last Friday he plans to give Barnes, 36, at least one game off a week. It’s the second time in three games Barnes has not played.

The decision to sit Barnes last Friday was met with skepticism because it was reported that day that Barnes could face misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a nightclub altercation in New York early Dec. 4.

Joerger said decisions to rest Barnes are unrelated to possible legal issues.

▪  By halftime Monday, the Kings were without two starters.

Forward Rudy Gay (right hip flexor strain) left the game in the second quarter and did not return.

Guard Ben McLemore left Monday’s game with a left quadriceps contusion in the first quarter and did not return. McLemore took a knee from Lakers center Timofey Mozgov, who was setting a screen.

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

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