Point guard Ray McCallum readily takes responsibility for the Kings’ offense.
But trying to jump-start the Kings on Wednesday at Utah, he was like a stranded motorist who could not find jumper cables or his roadside assistance card.
Playing without injured DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay against a good defensive team, the Kings predictably struggled to score in a 103-91 loss to the Jazz.
McCallum was the only Kings starter to score in single digits with three points, missing 6 of his 7 shots. He had fewer assists (two) than forward Omri Casspi (five) or center Jason Thompson (three).
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The size of the Jazz guards might have contributed to McCallum’s frustrating night. In two games in the past week against Utah, McCallum shot 4 of 20 from the floor.
“I wouldn’t say it was them; it was more so myself,” McCallum said Wednesday night. “There were times where I should have been a little bit more aggressive. It was tough for me to get into a flow and a rhythm, no excuses. I’ll watch the film, learn from it and just get prepared for (Friday’s game in Oklahoma City).”
McCallum and the Kings will face perhaps the most aggressive point guard in the NBA, Russell Westbrook. Oklahoma City is tied with New Orleans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the Pelicans own the tiebreaker by winning the season series against the Thunder.
So Oklahoma City won’t feel sorry for McCallum as he tries to muster some offense for himself and the Kings.
“It was really different not having Cuz and Rudy out there, but it’s something to learn from,” McCallum said. “We’ve got four games left. We’ll see what happens (Friday night), and if Rudy can’t go and it’s the same group from (Wednesday), we have to learn from our mistakes and be ready to go.”
Gay appears to be the most likely of the Kings’ top two scorers to play against the Thunder. He scored a team-high 33 points to lead Sacramento over Minnesota on Tuesday. Gay had missed three games because of a concussion and was held out Wednesday after symptoms returned.
“I think there’s a possibility of (Gay playing),” Kings coach George Karl said. “We’re following protocol, and (Wednesday) was a precautionary decision, him having some headaches after the game (Tuesday), but my information says he’ll have a chance to play on Friday.”
Cousins was in Los Angeles on Wednesday to meet with a specialist about lingering soreness in his right foot.
Having Gay in the lineup would take pressure off McCallum and Ben McLemore, the Kings’ two second-year starting guards.
Sacramento needs solid games from both, even if Gay returns. Rookie guard Nik Stauskas has a mid-back sprain, so the only other healthy guard is Andre Miller.
“Inconsistent on the road,” Karl said of his starting guards. “Young players play better at home. We got about 12 minutes from Ben playing pretty well (Wednesday), but we probably need more than that to be successful.”
McCallum can’t be passive if the Kings are going to have a chance to win. When he has off games, a lack of aggression usually is an issue.
“Yeah, definitely,” McCallum said. “I’ve just got to watch the film, see what I did wrong, correct it by (Friday night), have a lot of energy and compete for a win.”