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Kings’ Lawson regains his shooting touch

Kings guard Ty Lawson (10) drives to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo in the Thunder’s 122-118 victory at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017.
Kings guard Ty Lawson (10) drives to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo in the Thunder’s 122-118 victory at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Ty Lawson has found his groove.

In his last 10 games entering the Kings’ meeting with Oklahoma City on Sunday at Golden 1 Center, Lawson was averaging 12.1 points, raising his season average to 8.7.

In five games in January, Lawson was shooting 52.0 percent and averaging 14.4 points. He also had scored in double figures in nine of his last 12 games.

The Kings need someone besides DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay to provide consistent offense, and Lawson has stepped up.

“I think he’s just being aggressive and seeing some shots go in,” coach Dave Joerger said. “When his pull-up jumper is going in, he’s very difficult to defend with the pressure he puts on the rim and in the paint and getting other people involved.”

Lawson’s drives don’t always lead to assists, but his fast style usually forces his teammates to pick up the pace.

“He gets to the rim so quickly, (the defense) just can’t say we’re going to stay out (and guard other Kings) because he’s a facilitator,” Joerger said. “He goes north-south in a different way than Russell (Westbrook of the Thunder) does with the speed that he has, and that can give people some problems. He’s been playing really well.”

I think he’s just being aggressive and seeing some shots go in. When his pull-up jumper is going in, he’s very difficult to defend with the pressure he puts on the rim and in the paint and getting other people involved.

Dave Joerger, Kings coach, on Ty Lawson

Westbrook on the attack – The Kings have had issues with transition defense.

On Sunday, Sacramento faced an All-Star who can be a one-man fast break in Westbrook, who is threatening to average a triple-double.

Entering Sunday, Westbrook was 11th in the league in rebounding at 10.7 per game and was the only guard in the top 20. He also was leading the league in scoring (30.8) and second in assists (10.5).

Westbrook constantly pressures the defense with his attacking style.

“What (Westbrook) does really well is he defensive rebounds, and then he comes at you 100 miles an hour,” Joerger said. “And that is very difficult to defend against.”

Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said Westbrook has 17 games this season with double-digit defensive rebounds, sparking the Thunder’s transition game.

“Defensively, it helps us out a lot because what it does for us is it allows us to get the fast break started quicker,” Donovan said.

Keeping Westbrook off the glass is tough. Joerger jokingly offered a solution.

“We just told our guys, don’t miss and he won’t get any rebounds,” Joerger said.

10.7 Russell Westbrook’s rebounding average, 11th in the league

Back with the main club – The Kings recalled rookies Skal Labissiere and George Papagiannis from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League in time for Sunday’s game. Neither was active for the game.

Rookie Malachi Richardson was supposed to join Labissiere and Papagiannis in Reno last week, but bad weather prevented him from traveling there.

In 17 starts for the Bighorns, Labissiere is averaging 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.3 blocks in 31.0 minutes per game. In 13 games, including 10 starts, Papagiannis is averaging 10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 29.9 minutes per game.

“We complain too much to the refs,” Matt Barnes said after the Kings 122-118 loss vs the Thunder on Sunday, January 15, 2017.

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

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