Let the patchwork lineups continue.
With Rudy Gay out for Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets because of a concussion sustained Monday at Memphis, Kings coach George Karl must experiment with his lineup out of necessity.
The Rockets figure to be extremely focused as they look to tie Memphis for the No. 2 playoff seed in the Western Conference.
“I haven’t even thought about who’s the starter,” Karl said about replacing Gay. “You have the option of going big; you have the option of going small.”
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Center DeMarcus Cousins will be back after he was rested in Monday’s 97-83 loss to the Grizzlies. Karl must determine who joins Cousins in the frontcourt.
The Rockets rely on running and three-point shooting, a style Karl envisions for the Kings.
“Houston’s a running team, and they’re probably as good a running team as there is in the NBA, so transition defense is going to be a high priority in the game,” Karl said. “You might put your best big guy in the game who can run, or you just might go small and try to play that way.”
Playing small could mean Derrick Williams and Omri Casspi starting at forward or three guards in the lineup.
“It’s a team you can play small against because they don’t post up anybody except Dwight (Howard) and their other big guy (Donatas) Motiejunas, so you could actually start Nik (Stauskas) at the three (small forward) and play three guards. Usually, guards are a little better in transition than big guys.”
Replacing Gay will be difficult. Karl said he expects Gay to be unavailable for four to five days as he is tested under the league’s concussion protocol.
Gay, who was injured when he absorbed an inadvertent elbow from Memphis center Marc Gasol, averages 20.9 points, second on the team behind Cousins (24.1). Without Gay, the Kings need to improve their ball movement and get better shots after struggling in both areas Monday.
“Anytime you take 20 points out of your lineup, you’re going to try to figure out how to be competent offensively,” Karl said.
All three Kings coaches this season have sought to improve passing.
The Kings have shown they can pass well. But in their last two games, both losses, they totaled 30 assists. They had 27 assists in their last win, March 25 at Phoenix.
The Kings struggle to overcome the urge to settle for contested shots.
“Sometimes we kind of get caught up into that style, but I think it’s an adjustment,” guard Ray McCallum said. “We’re all trying to learn and figure it out, and coach is still trying to figure us out. It’s still a learning process that we’re trying to get over, and we’ve got nine games left and we’re going to try to use them to try to get over the hump.”