Pacific Notes: Sabonis, Gabriel, Poole, Ayton, Shamet

It’s no coincidence that Kings players lead the league with the fewest games missed due to injury, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Good fortune plays a role, but there’s also a team philosophy that rejects the idea of load management.

Domantas Sabonis is among the players who typify that attitude, Biderman notes. Sabonis only missed one game when he suffered an avulsion fracture to his non-shooting thumb in December and another due to illness in January. Sabonis may need surgery on his thumb, but he refuses to consider it until the season ends and has been playing with a wrap and splint on his right hand.

“We need to win games,” Sabonis said. “We need to put ourselves in the best position for playoffs. If I miss a game and we lose, I’ll never forgive myself.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Wenyen Gabriel played virtually the entire fourth quarter Friday night in the Lakers‘ loss to the Mavericks, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Gabriel was frequently used to double team Kyrie Irving and cut down on his scoring opportunities. “He has a great, great nose for the ball,” coach Darvin Ham said. “(He had) 11 rebounds. He tries to defend, tries to protect the rim. … He’s just a spark plug, another one of our spark plugs. His size, his ability to run up and down the floor, clean up loose balls, and get offensive rebounds and putbacks. Really defends well. And he showed all of that tonight. That’s why we stayed with him.”
  • Jordan Poole, whose four-year extension begins next season, has been alternating between brilliant and exasperating, observes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Monte Poole points out that coming into tonight, the Warriors guard has been a minus-50 over his last six games and he failed to deliver Friday night when four rotation players were sitting out the first game of a back-to-back.
  • The Suns won’t have center Deandre Ayton for Sunday’s game at Oklahoma City due to a right hip contusion, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Ayton didn’t travel with his teammates after suffering the injury in the fourth quarter Thursday night.
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