Zach Randolph sat at his locker two hours before tipoff Tuesday, already in his game shorts, but sockless and shoeless, as he began his, um, impressive pregame ritual. Trust me. You don’t see this every night in the NBA, not to this extent, nor with this degree of effort.

He reaches for a pair of latex gloves in his stall, then guides one over his right hand with the practiced skill of a nurse or a surgeon. He grabs a tube of cream, and accompanied by the sounds of grunts and groans, massages the product into his sore quads, knees, calves, feet and ankles. He was most generous around the ankles – almost a deep-tissue massage – and sweating heavily when he finished.

“FlexPower,” Randolph explained, handing over the cream for examination. The product ingredients include Arnica, Glucosamine, green tea and tissue nutrients and claim to provide “a gradual heat that helps keep your joints and muscles toasty warm.”

“But I don’t know,” the power forward says, shrugging. “I’ve been using it for years. But I think it might be more of a mind thing.”

Whatever works. The man is 36, for heaven’s sake. The dual role Kings general manager Vlade Divac and coach Dave Joerger envisioned for the 17-year veteran includes a heavier workload than originally anticipated. Amid the club’s early struggles and erratic performances from the younger “bigs,” the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Randolph has been relied on for more than limited minutes and a positive locker room presence.

He leads the Kings in scoring (12.8 points per game) and rebounding (6.3 boards), and is averaging 24.6 minutes over eight starts. After coming off a strong effort in Tuesday’s victory over Oklahoma City, he might even need a little more of the goop with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers at Golden 1 Center on Thursday. Randolph also would like a little more time at center, where his bruising screens, ability to draw double-teams and crafty passing led to backcuts, ball movement and open jumpers against the Thunder.