McLemore stars while Jimmer sits

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SALT LAKE CITY — There was a huge elephant in the EnergySolutions Arena Saturday night.

The elephant was large, rather intriguing, and centered on whether or not former BYU star Jimmer Fredette would get any playing time for the Sacramento Kings against the Utah Jazz.

Despite numerous cheers/pleas from fans, Sacramento coach Mike Malone did not give the third-year pro any minutes against the Jazz, and the Kings picked up an overtime victory over Utah, 112-92.

In his pregame interview, Malone said Fredette’s lack of playing time is due to the growth of other players on the roster.

“Jimmer right now is not in the rotation,” said Malone, who is in his first year as Kings coach. “It was a tough decision coming out of preseason, whether it would be Marcus Thornton or Jimmer Fredette. I went to Jimmer for about a four-game stretch, but now it’s Marcus who has been playing those minutes as a backup to Ben McLemore.

“The reality is, Ben McLemore is a very big part of our future. He’s going to get the lion’s share of the minutes.”

McLemore, who has taken most of Fredette’s minutes as the season has gone on, hit a 3-pointer that effectively sent the game to overtime, and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Fredette, who has played in a total of six games this season, said the adversity he is facing in Sacramento has taught him much.

"Jimmer is a pro," Sacramento coach Mike Malone said. "He's a high character kid, and he's done everything we've asked him to do. He's staying ready, which I respect."

“You’ve got to control things that you can control — that’s all you can do at this point,” Fredette said. “You can control your mindset, you can control how hard you work, and just stay prepared so that’s what I’ve learned.”

For his part, Malone said he respects Fredette’s professionalism.

“Jimmer is a pro,” Malone said. “He’s a high character kid, and he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s staying ready, which I respect.”

Still, the former Wooden Award winner said he was humbled by the Utah crowd’s reaction toward him as the game went on.

“Every time I come back, it’s great to see the support that I have,” he said. “I appreciate all of it; I love the fans here and it’s been fun (to be back).”

After playing in the EnergySolutions Arena every year he was in college, Fredette said he has fond memories of the building.

“I have had some good games in this building,” said Fredette, who has only played a high of 19 minutes in a game this season. “(I) played games every year at BYU here, against Utah State and Arizona, obviously in the NBA now. Tough to pick one, but it is a good building.”

For now, it appears that Sacramento may be forging ahead on a new path without the former Cougar great.

“We’ve been in so many close games like this and we have been unable to pull them out,” Malone said. “I’m hoping that a win like tonight maybe gives us a little bit of confidence the next time we’re in that situation. So, this game can only help us from a confidence standpoint moving forward."

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