So much for the planned rest.
Kings coach Dave Joerger intended to give forward Matt Barnes a night off when possible, ideally once a week. But recent injuries have made that impossible.
With Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi and Garrett Temple sidelined, Joerger needs Barnes on the court.
“Yeah it’s difficult,” Joerger said. “He does a lot of good things for us, so you just try to pick your matchups. You try to see different nights when Ben (McLemore) and Malachi (Richardson) can get going a little bit and there’s a good matchup for them and they can play a little bit deeper, a little bit longer.”
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Barnes, 36, is the oldest King and one of Joerger’s more trusted players. The two spent last season with Memphis.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls at Golden 1 Center, Barnes was averaging 7.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Besides that production, Joerger likes Barnes’ performance in late-game situations.
“Certainly with the experience the other night (against Golden State), I played him and Anthony (Tolliver) together, which we haven’t done a lot this year,” Joerger said. “But the experience, especially down the stretch (is important).”
Barnes also has been an important voice in the locker room, providing perspective for younger teammates who have spent their pro careers as Kings and are unfamiliar with a playoff race.
When teammates are too concerned about the standings after a game, Barnes reminds them the season is long and urges them to avoid obsessing over how other teams are doing.
Barnes does wonder about the Kings’ inconsistent play, illustrated by a loss to struggling Phoenix on Friday followed by a win over Western Conference-leading Golden State on Saturday.
But Barnes just rolls with it. The Suns’ Devin Booker made the winning shot over Barnes on Friday, but the 14-year veteran shook it off and had 11 points and 14 rebounds against the Warriors.
“You’re only as good as your last game,” Barnes said. “It’s called a season, so chill.”
Notes – Chicago guard Rajon Rondo had a league-high 11.7 assists per game last season for Sacramento. But he was booed when he entered in the first quarter Monday.
Last offseason, Rondo joined the Bulls in free agency, presumably to start at point guard. But Michael Carter-Williams is starting.
This season, Rondo is averaging 6.6 assists, on pace for his lowest average since his second season, when he averaged 5.1 for Boston.
Amid the Bulls’ finger-pointing, Rondo has become a leader of the second unit, which is more youthful and lacks the star power of All-Star starter Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade.
“I’ve been really pleased with Rajon with the way he’s led the younger guys,” coach Fred Hoiberg said.
▪ The Kings have games Wednesday, Friday and Sunday to end their six-game homestand. And in a scheduling quirk that benefits the road teams for purposes of rest, the Bulls and Wednesday’s opponent, Boston, have been relaxing in Sacramento while the Kings have been playing.
“The Bulls have been here for three days,” Joerger said. “Boston’s already here to watch the game (Monday). The schedule comes and goes; officials’ calls come and go. It generally tends to even itself out.”