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Casspi is ‘an Energizer bunny’ off the bench

Omri Casspi is fouled by Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic during a recent Sacramento victory. When Casspi sees action, he puts a lot of pressure on the defense, coach Michael Malone said.
Omri Casspi is fouled by Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic during a recent Sacramento victory. When Casspi sees action, he puts a lot of pressure on the defense, coach Michael Malone said. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Sometimes Omri Casspi is a blur.

Whether it’s on offense or defense, it can be hard to keep up with Casspi because he’s always in motion, trying to make something happen.

“He’s like an Energizer bunny,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “Sometimes you have no idea where he’s going, but he’s going.”

Casspi has been the kind of bench player the Kings desperately needed in recent seasons. Casspi isn’t worried about plays being drawn up for him. It’s all about hustle, hard work and making the most of his opportunities.

Casspi has started the last two games in place of Rudy Gay (right Achilles’ tendinitis) and been productive.

Casspi scored a season-high 22 points in Tuesday’s win at New Orleans and had 14 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday’s loss at Houston.

Casspi quickly became a favorite of the coaching staff because of his relentless style after returning to the Kings as a free agent.

“I’m going to be the same way and play the same way,” Casspi said. “I don’t want to get used to playing 41 minutes because I don’t know when Rudy’s going to come back and I’ll go back to my old role.”

The only thing that changes in that role is that Casspi comes off the bench. The energy he plays with is needed every night.

Besides the energy on the court, the Kings were hoping Casspi’s experience last season in Houston would help add more professionalism and winning habits.

Casspi was traded to New Orleans in the offseason deal that sent center Omer Asik to the Pelicans and then was waived. Once he became a free agent, the Kings worked to land him on a one-year deal.

Casspi brought what he learned in Houston, his first time on a playoff team, and tries to infuse life into the lineup whenever he’s in the game.

“He played so many good games for us last year,” said Houston coach Kevin McHale. “I thought he really gave us a lot of juice in so many games. He plays high energy – great guy, great team guy, wonderful guy to be around.”

Casspi is averaging 8.7 points in 20.6 minutes. The hope was he would add another three-point shooter to the roster, but his long-range shot hasn’t been falling (16.7 percent). Casspi, however, is still shooting 54.2 percent from the field because he’s always looking to attack the rim.

“He’s going to put a lot of pressure on the defense,” Malone said. “He plays very hard, very competitive and with a lot of passion. So I think that kind of contagious play by him helps us out when we’re down a man or two. But Omri’s been a great pickup for us, and we need him to continue to play at a high level.”

Casspi, now in his sixth season, isn’t looking to make waves with his play.

“I’m just going to do what I do filling in and do my best to help the team win,” he said.

Injury report – Starting guard Darren Collison (left quadriceps contusion/muscle strain) and Gay are questionable for tonight’s game against the Spurs at AT&T Center in San Antonio. Both have missed the last two games.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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