Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

January 25, 2012
Kings-Nuggets: Both teams missing pieces tonight

The Kings, missing guard Marcus Thornton and forward-center Chuck Hayes to injury, will play a likewise shorthanded opponent tonight in the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets will be without injured guards Arron Afflalo and Rudy Fernandez, as well as center Timofey Mozgov, who is away for the birth of his first child.

Kings head coach Keith Smart declined to say who will start in Thornton's stead. John Salmons started at shooting guard on Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, while rookie Jimmer Fredette is another option.

Smart did say he would like to get to a point where he has an established starting lineup -- something that has been complicated by Hayes' absence and Thornton's nagging injury.

"That's the only way you have continuity," Smart said. "That's the only way you grow, 'cause you have a lineup that's set, you have your backups and your rotation guys that know what time they're coming into the game."

* Salmons, who has had a rocky start to the season, struggled against the Trail Blazers after missing the Kings' previous game due to stomach illness. Salmons was held scoreless in just over 18 minutes and had one rebound and one steal.

Asked what can be done to get Salmons into a rhythm, Smart said: "Let him play."

"You try to overload yourself by trying to get one guy going, you forget about the other four," Smart said. "The focus is that when a play is called he has the opportunity to make plays from there, but not trying to just lock in on one person to try to get that person going.

"You want to be a fast-paced team and so trying to slow things down to get one individual going is kind of dfficult to do when you're trying to keep the tempo up. He's going to get quality shots, opportunities to shoot ... He's a pro, he's been around. He's not a young guy that you've got to kind of keep a hand on to try and keep up. He knows what he needs to do to kepe himself going and get himself ready for every game."

* As head coach of a Nuggets team leading the NBA in scoring and fast-break points per game, George Karl knows a thing or two about running. Since taking over as head coach of the Kings, Smart has professed his desire to make the Kings more of a running team. 

Asked whether he sees potential in the Kings to be a good running team, Karl answered:

"They're athletic. There are a lot of coaches who want to run, but I think the big thing about the NBA running is the players have got to be committed. If the players say, 'I'm tired, four games in five nights, I can't do it,' they'll never do it. The one thing about having a deep bench is if they don't run, they don't play."

Karl said the Nuggets stress reaching 100 possessions a game or more, "and when it doesn't get there, we're kind of angry."

"I think it's kind of like an all-in circumstance," he said. "If you want to do it, you've got to do it. You can't do it sometimes."

-- Matt Kawahara

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