KINGS AT TIMBERWOLVES, 8 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • Kings coach Keith Smart made a plea to the media before Monday’s game with the Timberwolves: “Give the guy a chance.”  He was talking about second-year forward DeMarcus Cousins, who was suspended by former coach Paul Westphal just days before Smart replaced him earlier this month. Cousins isn’t the same person, and the media coverage should reflect it, the new coach said. “All the things that people are saying about him, I’ve got him covered 100 percent, because he’s a brand new guy. I don’t think he’s going to be the guy that people perceive him to be,” Smart said. “Give the guy a chance. Start writing about what you see as the positives of what he’s doing, not so much about the baggage he’s bringing. Give him a chance to go in a new direction and see what happens, as opposed to, [in] every conversation he’s ‘that’ guy. For me, he’s a blank sheet of paper, and that blank sheet of paper has been very good.” Cousins, suspended by Westphal after he allegedly demanded a trade out of Sacramento, has recorded a double-double in five of his last six games.
  • Marcus Thornton will start his second straight game for Sacramento after missing three games with a left thigh contusion. Thornton scored 14 points in his first game back, Saturday at Dallas. Sacramento is completing a five-game road trip and has lost five of its last six games. The Kings are 1-6 on the road this year.
  • Forward Martell Webster has been cleared to resume practicing with the Timberwolves after meeting with his doctor in Portland on Monday. The seventh-year forward, who underwent surgery on a disc in his back Sept. 28, will be on the practice floor Tuesday, coach Rick Adelman said. “He’s going to be able to at least to start practicing, so we’ll have a few more people to go at it and see how he moves,” Adelman said. “He’s been a real solid player when he’s been healthy, so we hope he can get some practices in and see how quickly it progresses.”
  • Webster isn’t the only Wolves frontcourt player getting healthy. Center Brad Miller, acquired in a trade with Houston last summer, is nearly ready to return to practice after knee surgery in May. “He practiced for short periods the other day, but his conditioning has a long way to go,” Adelman said. “A lot of it is just the strength in his leg, the strength that surrounds that [left] knee. But if those guys can keep working at it, it’ll give us a lot more choices during the game.”
  • Guard J.J. Barea will miss his third straight game with an ankle sprain, but Adelman said he will leave Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour in the starting lineup together, with Wayne Ellington spelling each point guard for short stretches.
  • The Wolves lead the all-time series with the Kings, 43-42. They are 13-7 when playing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

 – Phil Miller

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