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- The Kings learned just about five hours before tipoff that starting center and leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins was suspended for striking Dallas’ O.J. Mayo in the groin area during Monday night’s 119-96 loss at Dallas. The Kings already were without guard Marcus Thornton, their third-leading scorer at 13.3 points. Thornton is away from the team to be with his sick mother. Kings coach Keith Smart tried to take the Cousins suspension in stride, even though notice of it came quite late. “You (usually) have an idea before that,” said Smart, whose team was off on Tuesday and went through shootaround Wednesday morning planning as though Cousins would play. “Different players do different things pre-game. Some guys may nap a little sooner if they’re starting, some guys may (nap) later. All those things. When I got the news you’d probably call a guy and tell him he’s starting to night, but he may be in his nap time. It’s always tough when you do that. That’s the ruling that came down. The frustration is that you had time to better prepare yourself for something like this.” Smart would not reveal who will start in Cousins’ place.
- The Kings did get good news in that Tyreke Evans will return after missing the last three games and five of the last six with a bruised left knee. “It’s going to be difficult to see where he is with his conditioning,” Smart said. “And of all the nights to come back, it’s against two of the most explosive young guards in our league in (Monta) Ellis and (Brandon) Jennings. So we’ll see how he goes. I’ll take a peek at him. What you don’t want is for him to do is get out there and get fatigued and start limping.”
- The Bucks will have their own problems with personnel. Starting big men Larry Sanders (illness) and Ekpe Udoh (wrist) and top reserves Mike Dunleavy (knee) and Beno Udrih (ankle) will not play. Skiles was about 10 minutes late for his pregame meeting with reporters and apologized, joking “I was trying to figure out who I can play.” Luc Mbah a Moute will make his first start of the season in Udoh’s place. Mbah a Moute missed the first 14 games recovering from off-season knee surgery. Samuel Dalembert will start in Sanders’ place, but Dalembert has started 13 times already this season before being replaced in the starting five. Skiles also revealed that forward Ersan Ilyasova would be available to play off the bench. Ilyasova is dealing with a bruised calf muscle.
– Rick Braun