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December 26, 2011
Season-opener will give Westphal a sense of Kings' progression

The 2011-12 season about an hour away, Kings coach Paul Westphal sat back in a courtside seat, watching warm-ups and sipping a cup of coffee. Westphal was the picture of calm -- rushed training camp and the promise of an emotional, energetic night inside Power Balance Pavilion notwithstanding.

The Kings will have the starting five they envisioned early in training camp, with Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and John Salmons on the perimeter and DeMarcus Cousins and Chuck Hayes in the frontcourt.

That seemed improbable a week ago. Consider the situation Hayes went through and the fact that every other starter missed at least one practice during the condensed camp.

Asked how far the team has progressed, Westphal grinned and answered: "I'll tell you in a couple hours.

"I'm excited to see where we're at right now in our development," he said. "We would've liked a month of practice instead of a couple days to have this group together, but that's the way it is in the NBA these days. We're not any different than anybody else in the NBA and we're happy to have those guys out on the floor."

Westphal said Jimmer Fredette will likely play significant minutes off the bench, and Isaiah Thomas will be in the guard rotation as well. Fellow rookie forward Tyler Honeycutt is less likely to see the floor, Westphal said.

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant will play for the Lakers after scoring 28 points last night against Chicago with a well-documented torn ligament in his right wrist. Lakers head coach Mike Brown said he expects to use the same starting five he did last night.

Brown was also asked a little while ago how much he knows of the Kings-Lakers rivalry from the early 2000s. Not much, he admitted. Told he'll probably be hearing the sound of cowbells behind the Lakers bench for much of the night, Brown said: "That's OK. I lived on a farm growing up."

-- Matt Kawahara



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