Kings Blog

Thompson takes over in All-Star audition

The Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins shoots over Golden State’s Andrew Bogut in the first half of Friday night’s game in Oakland. Cousins finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds ahead of Tuesday’s announcement of the All-Star reserves.
The Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins shoots over Golden State’s Andrew Bogut in the first half of Friday night’s game in Oakland. Cousins finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds ahead of Tuesday’s announcement of the All-Star reserves. The Associated Press

It has been 11 years since the Kings sent a player to the NBA All-Star Game.

DeMarcus Cousins has made it no secret he’d like to end that drought by playing in the game this year in New York.

With the Kings on course to miss the playoffs again, Cousins has put up statistics worthy of consideration for the league’s annual showcase exhibition.

The reserves for the All-Star Game will be announced Tuesday, and the Western Conference coach, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, could find himself coaching Cousins next month in the game.

Kerr got a close look at Cousins on Friday when the Kings visited the Warriors at Oracle Arena.

But for the great stat line Cousins put up (28 points, 11 rebounds, two assists), it’s another potential first-time All-Star who might have solidified his spot on the roster.

Golden State guard Klay Thompson scored a career-high 52 points, including an NBA-record 37 in the third quarter, as the Warriors manhandled the Kings 126-101.

“I assume Klay will be on the All-Star team next week when it’s announced,” Kerr said before the game. “For our staff to be there, it’s great to have such a big contingent from the team. Says a lot about how far this organization has come.”

Cousins might be worthy of playing in the All-Star Game, but Thompson not only made his case to be voted in by coaches but to be selected as the injury replacement for Kobe Bryant in the starting lineup.

That wasn’t on Kerr’s mind, but who could have predicted Thompson would score on the Kings so easily, outscoring the Kings by 15 points in the third, and accounting for 37 of the Warriors’ 41 points in the period.

“I’ve got other things to worry about now,” Kerr said. “We’ll see what happens. More than anything, I feel bad for Kobe. He was voted in for a reason. He’s incredibly popular around the world, and I think he’s earned the right to start in the All-Star Game.”

The same could be said of Thompson.

During Thompson’s record-breaking third quarter, he made all 13 of his shots, including nine three- pointers. In 32 minutes, Thompson made 16 of 25 shots, including 11 of 15 from three-point range.

The Kings came in knowing the Warriors could hurt them from beyond the arc.

“These guys, in the two games we played them before, shot an average of 26 three-pointers and they average about 26 a night,” said Kings coach Tyrone Corbin. “They shot three-pointers, they play off that.”

The Kings would like to play off Cousins, but that’s hard to focus on when the defense is allowing players like Thompson to conduct record-setting shooting clinics.

The Kings were ahead 64-63 in the third, having overcome an 18-point deficit in the first quarter, before Thompson took over.

Kerr believes Cousins is worthy of playing in the All-Star Game, saying he’s had a “tremendous year.” Cousins entered Friday averaging 24 points, fourth in the NBA, and 12.7 rebounds, third in the league.

“There are not a lot of guys that you have to establish your game plan specifically because of that player,” Kerr said. “There is no doubt that he is an All-Star-caliber player, but it’s musical chairs in the West. There are only so many spots. I don’t know how (the coaches’ votes) will play out.”

One thing that could hurt Cousins is the Kings’ 16-27 record. They are 14-17 in games that Cousins plays in.

The Warriors improved to an NBA-best 35-6 with the win. They have won a team-record 18 consecutive home games, while the Kings lost their sixth in a row, a season-worst slump.

Corbin said the Kings’ record should not be held against Cousins.

“It’s an All-Star Game,” Corbin said. “In most cases for an All-Star performer, you look at the guy’s numbers, what he’s doing this year..

So maybe Thompson and Cousins will both be in New York. But Friday, it was all about Thompson.

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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