Kings Blog

Kings notes: Cauley-Stein still learning nuances of NBA defense

Big men protect the rim and patrol the paint on defense.

But that’s not all big men in the NBA have to do defensively.

A big part of the game is covering the perimeter, and it’s something Kings coach George Karl wants rookie Willie Cauley-Stein improve.

It’s not that Cauley-Stein lacks the ability to defend, but in transition, he has instinctively run to the rim rather than stay with a three-point-shooting big man.

It’s what Karl referred to this month in New Orleans when he said Cauley-Stein was “tricked” at times against sharpshooting power forward Ryan Anderson. Cauley-Stein played just five minutes.

“It’s a habit that’s difficult to break, there’s no question,” Karl said. “I think at Kentucky they trained him a little bit that he was going to be a guy that switched a lot of pick and rolls. He probably switched more pick and rolls at Kentucky than we are doing this year.”

That was something to watch for Friday when the Kings hosted the Phoenix Suns at Sleep Train Arena. Suns big men Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic are comfortable shooting from three-point range.

“I think he is aware of that, but he still gets tricked in because big guys have been told their whole life to cover the paint, get back and cover the basket, protect the hoop,” Karl said. “I don’t want to say it, but it’s a habit that might take a long time (to break), that’s not broken in a month or two months. It’s broken over a period of time where to stay on the court you’ve got to pick up the right habit and not the wrong habit that you’ve been trained in for probably 15 or 20 years.”

Cousins’ cause — Kings center DeMarcus Cousins’ patent-leather red retro Air Jordans in the first quarter were more than a fashion statement.

The words “#TeamAria” and “End Epilepsy” were written on them, and Cousins will donate them as part of a silent auction to raise funds for the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California.

Saturday is Purple Day to raise epilepsy awareness.

“I have a friend with a daughter who was diagnosed with epilepsy and battled seizures constantly during the first two years of her life, so this cause hits close to home,” Cousins said in a statement. “She ended up undergoing brain surgery and has been seizure-free ever since. She’s an incredible kid with an inspiring story, and I’m honored to do anything I can to help promote epilepsy awareness.”

Cousins switched to a different pair of Jordans in the second quarter.

Getting healthy — Cousins returned to the starting lineup Friday after missing Wednesday’s game at Minnesota with a bruised right knee.

That left Ben McLemore (fractured finger) as the only King out with an injury.

“Everybody’s hurting this time of year,” Karl said. “You’re worn down a little bit, and this season has probably worn us out mentally more than most teams.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at