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Quincy Acy’s defensive energy leads to bigger role with Kings

hamezcua@sacbee.com

For months, Kings coach George Karl has said he has plenty of players who can score and he needs more players willing to play defense. Karl also has bemoaned his team’s lack of energy to start games.

Quincy Acy doesn’t solve those problems by himself. But when Karl turns to Acy, the coach knows he’ll get defense and energy.

Acy summed up his role simply.

“Just anything,” he said. “Being active, just being physical.”

Acy started at power forward instead of rookie Willie Cauley-Stein on Friday, when the Kings beat the Denver Nuggets 116-110. Acy also figures to start Tuesday at Denver. Karl prefers matching up Acy with Denver power forward Kenneth Faried and likes the recent results with Acy in the lineup.

In the final game before the All-Star break, Acy started the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers and helped the Kings generate enough defense to rally for a win. On Friday, Acy again impressed Karl.

“I mean, it’s just energy,” Karl said. “Good energy, good focus … I thought Quincy was probably the reason we won in Philadelphia.”

Acy played 15 minutes Friday and grabbed three rebounds. He also jumped in front Denver center Jusuf Nurkic before a minor riff could escalate between Nurkic and Kings guard Rajon Rondo.

When defense is fun, offense is easy. It’s fun for those guys to score, doing what they’re paid to do, and it’s fun for me to get stops and help get the defense going.

Quincy Acy

When he was on the bench, Acy remained active, cheering and yelling encouragement. His goal on the court is similar.

“Just be active, talking,” Acy said. “I think that’s a lot of our problem, communication (on defense).”

Lately, the Kings have focused on their subpar three-point and transition defense during practice. But the problems might clear up if the players match Acy’s vigor.

With Acy starting Friday, the Kings held an opponent under 30 points in the first quarter for the first time in 10 games.

“I just try to be vocal out there, let everybody know I’ve got their back, congratulate them when they’ve got my back,” Acy said. “Just building everyone’s confidence that defense can be fun, and everyone kind of hopped on board.”

The Kings will have no problem scoring on most nights. Acy didn’t score Friday, but he’s not complaining.

“When defense is fun, offense is easy,” he said. “It’s fun for those guys to score, doing what they’re paid to do, and it’s fun for me to get stops and help get the defense going.”

I mean, it’s just energy. Good energy, good focus ... I thought Quincy was probably the reason we won in Philadelphia.

Kings coach George Karl, on Quincy Acy

Injury report – Center DeMarcus Cousins sat out Saturday’s practice because of a bruised tailbone. Karl indicated it was a day off for Cousins more than a serious injury concern.

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Forward Omri Casspi (wisdom tooth extraction) and guard Marco Belinelli (tooth extraction) returned to practice after missing Friday’s game.

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

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