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Tyrone Corbin wants Sacramento Kings to develop into elite defensive team

Sacramento Kings head coach Tyrone Corbin walks back to the bench in the fourth quarter on Friday night, January 9, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Sacramento Kings head coach Tyrone Corbin walks back to the bench in the fourth quarter on Friday night, January 9, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. jvillegas@sacbee.com

While the Kings still are figuring out the tempo they want on offense, coach Tyrone Corbin would like the team to aim for elite play on defense.

Entering Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Kings had played 17 games under Corbin, and their opponents shot 46 percent, the seventh-highest percentage allowed in the league since Dec. 15.

Corbin wants to curb that percentage and develop the Kings into one of the better defensive teams.

“Our goal is 42 percent or below on a nightly basis, and we’re working on it,” Corbin said.

That would be better than the Kings’ defensive performance in the season’s first 24 games under Michael Malone. The Kings held opponents to 43.9 percent shooting, eighth best in the league, before Malone was fired.

Getting to the 42 percent range would put the Kings on par with the Golden State Warriors, who entered Wednesday leading the league by holding opponents to 42.1 percent shooting.

Rising Star changes – The NBA announced a format change for the annual rookie-sophomore game during All-Star Weekend.

The Rising Stars Challenge now will feature 10 first- and second-year players from the United States against 10 international players.

Second-year guard Ben McLemore is the King with the best chance to be invited. The league’s assistant coaches vote on the participants. The game will be played Feb. 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The 10-man rosters will have four guards, four frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. Each team will have at least three first-year players and three second-year players.

Ball control – Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is among the top five in the NBA in points and rebounds per game, but he ranks second in turnovers.

Cousins entered Wednesday averaging 4.3 turnovers and was the only center in the top 10.

Corbin said he had given Cousins advice on cutting down turnovers.

“Slow down just a tad (and) to look before you throw it,” Corbin said.

Corbin said Cousins also must do a better job of keeping his balance along with being careful while dribbling.

“He can put the ball on the floor, but he has to know his surroundings because they’re sending two guys at him,” Corbin said.

Injury update – Kings forward Carl Landry missed his fourth consecutive game because of a sprained right wrist.

Point guard Ramon Sessions played for the first time since Dec. 22. He missed 12 games because of a low back strain. Sessions was cleared to play Monday at Portland but did not get into the game.

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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