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Injuries at small forward mean little rest for veteran Matt Barnes

Dave Joerger relishes win in his home state of Minnesota

In front of plenty of folks who know him in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger led his team to victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, then acknowledged key contributions from several players.
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In front of plenty of folks who know him in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger led his team to victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, then acknowledged key contributions from several players.

Kings coach Dave Joerger would love to follow through on his plan to give Matt Barnes some rest, but injuries haven’t made that an option.

Barnes was in the starting lineup for the third consecutive game when the Kings faced the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night at Target Center.

Barnes had been the only healthy small forward until Friday. Rudy Gay missed his sixth consecutive game Friday with a right hip flexor strain. Omri Casspi (illness), however, was available after missing five games.

Joerger knows one person not complaining about Barnes’ minutes is Barnes.

“He goes, but you pay for it later,” Joerger said. “I think a lot of players would rather be in rhythm and be tired than be fresh and not in a rhythm.”

Barnes, 36, is the oldest player on the Kings, so Joerger would like to spare him when possible. He’s sat out two games to rest already this season, and Joerger limited Barnes’ time in the preseason.

Barnes is averaging 24.8 minutes this season, four fewer minutes than he averaged playing for Joerger with Memphis last season.

Mutual respect – DeMarcus Cousins has gotten to know Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau well in two stints with Team USA.

Thibodeau said his time with Cousins was great.

“With Team USA he was phenomenal,” Thibodeau said. “We won two gold medals and he was a big part of both of the teams. He played great for us. And whatever we asked him to do, start, come off the bench, score, play defense, rebound, he did it all.”

Cousins grew to admire Thibodeau’s fiery personality.

“Probably one of the most intense coaches I’ve been around,” Cousins said. “There’s no way he could fake it, that’s him 100 percent of the day. Great basketball mind, he’s passionate about it, definitely one of the best coaches in the league. He’s as fierce as they come when it comes to competition.”

Cousins believes the Timberwolves will be “scary” good with their young core under Thibodeau’s direction. Cousins knows second-year center Karl-Anthony Towns well from summer workouts.

Both played at Kentucky where players convene for pickup games. Towns was the NBA Rookie of the Year last season, a year after his teammate, Andrew Wiggins won the award.

“I think Thibs brings the best out of you,” Cousins said. “He expects the best and nothing short of it.”

Mum is the word – Cousins had no comment on the controversy surrounding former coach George Karl as excerpts of his new book “Furious George” become public.

Karl has been criticized for writing that two of his stars in Denver, Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin, had problems because they did not have a father in their lives growing up.

In advance copies, Karl criticized Cousins conditioning, attitude, said he was not a winner and explained why he wanted to trade him.

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

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