Coach Smart, Thompson and Fredette discuss the team’s matchup with the Mavericks. Plus, get an update on Thornton’s status for Thursday’s game.
– Kings Head Coach Keith Smart revealed the Kings on Thursday will have a different game plan against the Mavericks than the last time the two teams squared off on Dec. 10, 2012, when Dallas played without perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki.
“A lot of plays are going to run through him – he’s a willing passer, as well,” said the Kings leader. “He’s a shooter, who’s going to space the floor, which opens up driving lanes for other players.
“He’s still a very cerebral basketball player, so he understands he’s not going to be in a hurry.”
While Jason Thompson acknowledges Nowitzki may not be at full strength following offseason knee surgery, he believes it’s essential for Sacramento to play team basketball in order to contain the former MVP.
“It’s obviously a tough matchup,” said No. 34. “(But) it’s not just a one-on-one matchup with him and me – it’s going to be how my team helps me out, too. It’s also important for another guy to go at him to maybe get him in foul trouble and get him off his heels.”
– Smart says it’ll be important for DeMarcus Cousins to come out with the same assertive mentality the big man had in the pair’s previous meeting, in which No. 15 scored seven of his 25 points in the opening quarter, while facing veteran center Chris Kaman.
“I think he has to play that way for our team – come out fast, play in the pace of the game fast, get your points and rebounds (early),” said Smart. “Then … make the game easier for your teammates, and I think he’ll do those things.”
– Jimmer Fredette believes the team’s second unit must limit the success of Dallas’ potent offensive threats.
“We just have to come in off the bench and play better,” he said. “They have guys who can really score the basketball, so we’re going to have to play good defense, get out in transition and try to make shots. I think it starts on the defensive end, though.”
No. 7 looks ahead to slowing down Dallas’ versatile backcourt featuring O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison.
“Collison is working on his jumper, but he’s very quick, gets to the basketball, makes plays for himself or his teammates, (and has) a nice pull-up jumper,” he said. “(They’re) guys who can score the basketball and know how to play the game.”
– After participating in a full practice on Monday, guard Marcus Thornton sat out Wednesday’s session and discloses his status for the matchup with the Mavs is yet to be determined.
“I tried to go a little bit, but it was too sore,” he said, adding sitting out multiple games has been frustrating. “So, I went back and got treatment. (We’ll) see how it responds tomorrow.”
Smart is hopeful the LSU product will be cleared to play on Thursday.
“I think through the treatment he had this afternoon and through the night, I think he’ll be okay tomorrow,” said the Kings leader.