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Collison plays heavy minutes for Kings as only healthy point guard

Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison on Kings bench leading them to victory vs Hawks

Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison on Kings bench lead by Matt Barns leading them to victory vs Hawks.
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Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison on Kings bench lead by Matt Barns leading them to victory vs Hawks.

Sure, no one wants to ever come out of .a game.

But it’s a little different when that’s not much of an option.

There’s little rest for Darren Collison these days. The Kings starting point guard is logging major minutes as Ty Lawson missed his third consecutive game because of a hamstring injury when the Kings faced the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Collison played 85 of a possible 96 minutes in the previous two games without Lawson. The Kings have one more game – Wednesday at Golden State – before the All-Star break.

So Collison is looking at playing 40-plus minutes for three straight games before getting a chance to relax.

“I can’t wait for the break from a physical standpoint and mentally,” Collison said.

After each game, Collison spends time in the cold tub to help with the recuperation process. He was doing that before Lawson was out, and that time is even more important now.

Kings coach Dave Joerger said there is nothing special he does during games to keep tabs on Collison, as he has to shoulder more of the burden.

“I just watch him,” Joerger said. “The biggest thing is you really put your team at a deficit if you get in foul trouble, so you have to pick and choose spots when you can be aggressive, and defensively generally your pressure starts at point guard and those pickup points.”

That means Collison has to be wise about when to be aggressive on defense to avoid fouls and also to conserve energy.

Joerger has also used shooting guard Arron Afflalo and forwards Matt Barnes and Anthony Tolliver to initiate the offense and give Collison relief from that duty when possible.

Collison has played well with more minutes. It’s not just that Lawson is out, the Kings are also without Garrett Temple, who would be the third point guard.

Juggling lineups is nothing new for Joerger from his early coaching days.

“I’m from the minor leagues, so there’s nights where there’s seven guys, eight guys (available),” Joerger said. “Guys can get a sense of confidence when you’re down on numbers of guys. They have to play, and that’s just the mindset of an athlete. They know they can go ahead and play free and loose. I’m going to make some mistakes, but guys are conscientious.”

Collison was averaging 21.5 points and six assists in two games without Lawson and was a big reason the Kings arrived in Los Angeles on a three-game winning streak.

Collison said the recent stretch was not the first time he’s had to log major minutes, recalling his time in New Orleans.

“Early in my career, especially in my rookie year, I was the only point guard (when Chris Paul was injured),” Collison said. “Whatever it takes to win.”

Collison relishes his off days, even more so lately. He won’t be off until Thursday, when the All-Star break begins, but his usual plan for off days is simple.

“I don’t do nothing,” Collison said. “I let my son jump on top of me, my wife is helping me around the house and don’t do nothing. I can’t if I wanted to. I think the smartest thing for me to do physically is to take it easy, because I’m giving so much effort out there on the court on a nightly basis.”

And even once Lawson is healthy, don’t expect Collison to approach the game any differently.

The Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers 97-96 at the Staples Center. For the Kings it was their fourth straight win, matching the season-best winning streak of the season. It was their fifth victory in six games.

The Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers 97-96 at the Staples Center. For the Kings it was their fourth straight win, matching the season-best winning streak of the season. It was their fifth victory in six games.

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

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