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Kings notes: Karl juggles lineup amid injuries

Kings coach George Karl, shown here during an NBA game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, has juggled his starting lineup often this season.
Kings coach George Karl, shown here during an NBA game against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, has juggled his starting lineup often this season. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Eleven different starting lineups in 15 games is not ideal, but Kings coach George Karl is making the best of it.

The Kings’ starting lineup Monday against the Charlotte Hornets actually was the one Karl has used the most. For the fourth time, Rajon Rondo and Ben McLemore started at guard with a frontcourt of Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Gay returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s win over the Orlando Magic because of a strained left shoulder.

The Kings are 2-2 with that starting five. Many different lineups offer some advantages, Karl said.

“We’ve experienced in almost every game we’ve played, we’ve learned a little bit more who likes to be with each other better,” Karl said. “We might have thought something that wasn’t going to work does work and something we thought was going to work doesn’t work.”

An influx of new players has forced Karl to experiment with his lineups, and a tough schedule and injuries have complicated the coach’s task. On many nights, Karl tries to match up with the opposition, but the absences of Cousins, Gay and Darren Collison limited his options.

“You want it differently, you want it better, but no one is feeling sorry for us,” Karl said.

We’ve experienced in almost every game we’ve played, we’ve learned a little bit more who likes to be with each other better.

Kings coach George Karl

Karl, however, wanted a drastically different roster this season after taking over with 30 games remaining last season. So if that means Karl needs a little more time to become familiar with the team, he’s fine with it.

“We have a much better roster than we had last year, so I can’t complain from both sides,” Karl said.

Refuge on the road – Karl said he used to believe players were more comfortable playing at home. Over the years, he has changed his perspective.

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Karl now believes the road is a great place to play.

“I think the home base actually has more distractions,” he said. “You have all your family, your friends, the pull and tug of your whatever, your Twitter director, PR director. It just seems to be a lot of activity at home.”

More on matchups – Karl has shown he’s not afraid to switch things up at halftime to keep a hot player in the lineup. He did so again Monday, starting Omri Casspi in place of Cauley-Stein in the second half.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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