Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins still nursing their way back to health for Sacramento Kings

Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and isaiah Thomas against the Portland Trail Blazers. (Photo: Tobin Halsey)

DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay remain day-to-day for the Sacramento Kings due to injuries they sustained earlier this week. The two Kings starters didn’t play in last night’s loss to the Indiana Pacers and they spent practice today receiving treatment from training staff.

“I think Rudy is closer than DeMarcus is,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said following practice this afternoon. “But they’ll still be a gametime decision for tomorrow night.”

In Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets, Gay left the court midway through the first quarter and was diagnosed with a strained left achilles. Not long after, Cousins left the game in the second period after rolling his left ankle on a fastbreak drive to the basket.

Gay’s injury appears to be less severe and may not keep him out for much longer. Malone is hopeful to have the veteran swingman back in the mix tomorrow against the Denver Nuggets, but Gay’s status is not something he can confidently predict.

“I can’t say definitively if he’ll be able to play or not,” Malone said. “We’ll see how he responds to all the treatment he got today, he’ll get tonight and make a decision tomorrow.”

Cousins, meanwhile, is still experiencing some swelling with his left ankle. The Kings starting center has proven to be incredibly durable throughout his career, but this is the first time in his four NBA seasons that he’s suffered an injury this severe.

“I think he’ll be a gametime decision,” Malone said of Cousins. “But he may miss a game or two more.”

The Kings don’t have the luxury of time off to nurse Cousins and Gay back to health. Sacramento plays two back-to-back sets this week, including a home and away against Denver tomorrow and Utah on Monday. With the upcoming heavy schedule, Malone doesn’t want to risk further injury to his two best players by bringing them back too soon.

“We have five games in seven days coming up,” Malone said. “I don’t want to rush and force these guys to come back premature where they can do further damage to their respective injuries. So we’ll be smart about the whole process.”

The injuries have forced Malone to shuffle his lineup. Against the Pacers on Friday, Malone started Aaron Gray and Derrick Williams in place of Cousins and Gay. However, he is exploring the idea of changing his lineup again against the Nuggets, who run a smaller and more uptempo team.

“Indiana plays such a big physical frontline,” Malone said. “Aaron was great for us last night in terms of matching up with Roy Hibbert and did a good job defending Roy. Now we have a much different type of team tomorrow night with Denver who’s much more of a transition team, an athletic team.”

That means that Jason Thompson could see some time at center with either Quincy Acy or Carl Landry starting at four. With Gay and Cousins’ statuses still up in the air, where the Kings go with their lineup tomorrow is still anyone’s guess.

Carl Landry recovering well after first major minutes of the season

Michael Malone didn’t want to play Carl Landry more than 20 minutes last night. But because of the injury to DeMarcus Cousins coupled with the loss of Jason Thompson due to foul trouble, he had no choice.

In his third game back after missing most of the season due to hip surgery, Landry played extended and meaningful minutes Friday. The veteran forward scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds in 26 minutes. His body, according to Malone, was doing fine today despite the heavier workload.

“He did really well,” Malone said. “That was the first question I had for him was how do you feel today because people don’t realize that 25 minutes for Carl last night is really like 40 minutes for other guys. This is only his third game playing for being out for so long, but I thought he did a very good job.”

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