January was a month of transition for the Kings and a new world for Zach Randolph.
The Kings began resting veterans on predetermined nights to give younger players more time on the court. Randolph, in his 17th season, was not accustomed to sitting out games while healthy.
His production dipped last month, when he shot 39.9 percent and averaged 12.5 points in 10 games.
Due to injuries, the Kings’ plan to focus more on youth has been put on hold, so Randolph has again been in the starting lineup regularly. His hot start carried the Kings to a 114-109 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
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Randolph scored 11 of his 22 points in the first quarter as the Kings (18-38) rolled to a 29-16 lead and finished the game with a season-high 30 assists in ending a two-game skid.
Randolph shot 10 of 15 and had seven rebounds and three assists before sitting out the fourth quarter.
He has scored in double figures in six consecutive games, a streak that started Jan. 30 at New Orleans, when he scored 26 points in a win. Playing regularly instead of the start-and-stop pace that comes with the scheduled rests has Randolph looking like the man who was the Kings’ most consistent player on offense.
“You get a good rhythm,” Randolph said. “Especially something that I’m not used to, the team developing our young players. So you get into a good rhythm, it’s important, playing and getting that feel.”
Randolph averaged 18.1 points on 53.5 percent shooting in December. When the plan to rest veterans began Jan. 15 in Oklahoma City, Randolph, who was struggling with his shot at the time, was unable to get himself back into a flow due to playing just twice in a five-game span.
The Kings would be playing Skal Labissiere a lot at power forward, but he’s been out with a strained left shoulder. That’s kept Randolph in the starting lineup.
Randolph said he was simply trying to be aggressive and get to his spots on offense Tuesday. It helped that the Kings shared the ball well to find him. They had 10 assists in the first quarter.
“I thought Zach was really feeling it – he shot a high percentage – but that got contagious,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “He gave us a lot of confidence and our guys felt real good about moving the ball around.”
Randolph said how the Kings passed had a lot to do with how he and his teammates played.
Seven of the 10 Kings that played scored in double figures and had at least one assist. Five Kings had at least three assists, led by De’Aaron Fox and Vince Carter, who each had seven.
“We were sharing the ball,” Randolph said. “Once we were moving the ball, we were getting attacks. The lane opened up for players to drive. ... It was a collective team win. We were moving the ball, we’re learning, guys are learning. That’s what good teams do, move the ball.”
Bogdan Bogdanovic had 19 points and four assists for Sacramento.
J.J. Barea led Dallas (18-40) with 19 points and 13 assists. Harrison Barnes and Dwight Powell each scored 18 points for the Mavericks.