The game has been too rough for the Kings lately.
That continues to be a problem for the revamped roster as it finishes out the season. The Kings have had to use shooting guards at small forward against bigger wings, as was the case again Saturday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
The Kings started Ben McLemore at small forward against Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins, who, at 6-foot-8, is 3 inches taller than McLemore.
The Kings have been too small because Rudy Gay is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury and Matt Barnes was waived after DeMarcus Cousins was traded. When it comes to the post, Kosta Koufos is the most experienced of the big men.
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“In general we’re just getting manhandled physically by teams at the wing where we’re smaller,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “They run us off our routes and our younger guys are still a little light in the tail feather, so as we get bigger and stronger, hopefully we are where Minnesota was three or four years ago in the process of improvement.”
For now, the Kings must rely on being aggressive with their smaller wing players with hopes of disrupting teams with activity and effort. The Kings at least had another guard to throw at Wiggins.
Arron Afflalo joined the team in Minnesota after missing the last three games for personal reasons.
Getting settled – Omri Casspi has moved around a lot since the All-Star break.
Casspi was traded with Cousins to New Orleans on Feb. 19 but broke his right thumb and was waived after one game.
Casspi signed with Minnesota and debuted March 21. Saturday was Casspi’s sixth game with the Timberwolves.
“For him coming in late and coming in off an injury, we needed the shooting,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And that’s something we felt that he’s a veteran, he’s been in the league, he can provide that. I think he’s done that and that’s sort of what (Nemanja) Bjelica was giving us. The ability to stretch the floor, play good team defense and the fact that he’s been around. (Karl-Anthony Towns) and Andrew need space, and we think he can do that.”
Bright future – Joerger sees the postseason in the Timberwolves’ future with their core that includes Wiggins and Towns, both past winners of Rookie of the Year.
“This is a team that will be in the playoffs next year,” Joerger said. “They will be in and then will be looking for this seed or that seed. I’m impressed with the way that they play, and it’s been fun to watch the process. Flip (Saunders) got the thing going in the right direction. They didn’t miss on draft picks; they got the right picks, created the right culture. Tom is playing a great style, the defense and trust and building teamwork first. Nothing but the best is in front of them.”
The grind – Saturday’s game was the second of back-to-back that started in New Orleans.
It’s not the ideal travel schedule, but Joerger is using it as another teaching point.
“You’ve got to make yourself do it,” Joerger said. “What I told them (Friday) night was, ‘This isn’t easy. This is the longest back-to-back flight, miles wise, and you need to go through it. I don’t want you to go through it for the first time in two years from now. Go through it right now and feel it. It’s not fun. Make yourself do it and you’ll feel a lot better in the summertime.’ ”
Out – The Kings rested Garrett Temple, Tyreke Evans and Koufos, who was held out for the third consecutive game and fourth in five games.