January 28, 2018, 3:24 am
After earning back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-December, the Kings look to carry that momentum into San Antonio for a battle with the Spurs.
The Kings have played with energy and effort over their last two outings, something that has been absent for much of their play in 2018. With energy and effort comes effective defense and that’s exactly what has helped Sacramento gain an edge on their recent Eastern Conference opponents.
They managed to take down a Magic team that had won two of their last three coming in, and they also beat the Heat in Miami for the first time in 17 years; a pretty impressive accomplishment. The Kings managed to play with consistent effort on the defensive end that made life difficult for both those teams, holding the Magic to under 45 percent and the Heat to under 40 percent shooting from the field.
It’s the little things that matter in a season like this. Sacramento’s youthful roster has played well at times this season, with notable wins over the Cavs and Warriors, but inconsistency always seems to come back and bite them just when they gather momentum.
They’re facing a stiff test against an opponent that’s beaten them twice already this season and currently sits third in the Western Conference. However, in both prior meetings the Kings managed to remain within striking distance for most of the night, keeping the final deficit within 10 points on each occasion.
They were low scoring outings and you should expect more of the same tonight. The Kings remain in last place as far as scoring is concerned, averaging 97.8 point per game. The Spurs aren’t much better, sitting at 100.6 points per game which is 28th in the league. Would a game like this favor the Kings? Potentially given their recent stretch of play, however, the Spurs have thrived as a low scoring team that defends at a high level so it won’t be easy. After all, San Antonio sits at No. 1 as far as points allowed are concerned, restricting teams to just 97.4 points per game.
The Kings have been lucky enough to avoid Kawhi Leonard all season long but so has the rest of the league. He’s not going to play tonight, along with former King Rudy Gay who’s sidelined with a heel issue.
Restricting LaMarcus Aldridge should be a focal point for the Kings and it’ll make their life easier in general if they can limit his opportunities. He’s been dominant in the two prior meetings this season, dropping 29 and 31 points in each. The scary thing is, he didn’t hit a single 3-pointer in his 31-point performance on January 8 which points to his excellence when operating within the arc.
To make matters worse, the Kings will be without their best defender in Willie Cauley-Stein who’s dealing with a bone bruise in his right knee. He suffered the injury in Thursday’s victory over the Heat and was able to play through it, but an MRI following the game disclosed the seriousness of it. He’ll miss the next two games as a result. Cauley-Stein would have been the No. 1 option to defend Aldridge, but the team will have to turn to a guy like Kosta Koufos to help fill the void.
Koufos isn’t as quick and mobile as Cauley-Stein, but he’s got a great reputation as a post defender so he should be able to utilize that tonight. The last thing the Kings want to do is have Zach Randolph running around trying to guard Aldridge because that’s a disaster waiting to happen; Skal Labissiere hasn’t fared well in prior matchups either.
Their two recent wins, coupled with the fact that the Kings have given the Spurs a run for their money this season, does give them a shot in this one. Defense should be the No. 1 focus regardless, and the offense should flow-on from there. The Kings haven’t won three straight games all season; could tonight be the night?
PG – De’Aaron Fox
SG – George Hill
SF – Bogdan Bogdanovic
PF – Zach Randolph
C – Skal Labissiere
Skal Labissiere (shoulder) – PROBABLE
Harry Giles (knee rehab) – OUT
Frank Mason (heel) – OUT
Willie Cauley-Stein (knee) – OUT
HOW TO WATCH
Where: NBCS California
When: 4:00 p.m. PST (7:00 p.m. ET)
November 14, 2019, 1:28 amEric PaschallPF, Golden State Warriors
Eric Paschall came off the bench on Wednesday and dropped 15 points with three rebounds.
Paschall still logged 32 minutes but didn't stuff the stat sheet like we have seen in the past. He put a nice move on LeBron, but he is starting to regress despite taking 15 shots in this one. If you picked him up, he is worth holding onto for a bit longer.
November 14, 2019, 1:19 amDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard had trouble finding his rhythm in Wedensday night's 114-106 loss to the Raptors, ending with nine points (2-for-12 shooting), 10 assists, two blocks and two from deep.
Lillard had a rough time finding the bottom of the net in this one, but still managed to get 10 dimes and two blocks. Lillard is a top-5 player right now and there is no reason to worry after tonight's performance.
November 14, 2019, 1:14 amCJ McCollumSG, Portland Trail Blazers
C.J. McCollum finished the night with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and hitting three shots from deep on Wednesday.
McCollum has been shaky this season and it was nice to see an uptick in 3-pointers and rebounds in this one. He will likely pick it up as the season continues, and if you're looking for a buy-low candidate, this might be a good target for you.
November 14, 2019, 1:10 amRodney HoodSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Rodney Hood (back spams) returned to action on Wednesday night and dropped 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting, two boards, an assist and five 3-pointers.
Hood looks like someone that should be owned in standard leagues as he is providing nice numbers from deep and shooting 50 percent from the field this season. He's currently inside the top-120.
November 14, 2019, 1:04 amAnfernee SimonsSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons came off the bench on Wednesday and finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and three 3-pointers.
Simons can hold some value in deep leagues due to his ability to score and knock down shots from deep. The upside is there, but at this point, he doesn't hold much value in standard leagues.
November 14, 2019, 12:58 amNassir LittleSF, Portland Trail Blazers
Nassir Little got his first career start on Wednesday and ended with seven points (3-for-10), five boards, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer.
It's worth keeping an eye on Little if he continues to start and picks up his production. But for the moment, he hasn't done enough to warrant picking up outside of deep leagues.
November 14, 2019, 12:50 amFred VanVleetPG, Toronto Raptors
Fred Vanvleet had a monstrous line, ending with 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting, four rebounds, seven dimes, two steals, a block and sinking four from deep on Wednesday night.
VanVleet has been blowing his ADP out of the water this season. He is right on the cusp of top-25 production, and while he might not end the season there, he has the potential to put up big numbers with Kyle Lowry (fractured thumb) watching from the sidelines.
November 14, 2019, 12:42 amPascal SiakamPF, Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors in scoring with 36 points (15-for-28 shooting), along with six rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers on Wednesday night.
Pascal Siakam continues to have huge games and proves that he was worth an early-round pick. He contributes across the board, and the injuries to the Raptors will only provide higher upside for Siakam.
November 14, 2019, 12:35 amNorman PowellSF, Toronto Raptors
Norman Powell couldn't find his shot, ending the night with two points on 0-for-6 shooting, seven rebounds and two blocks against Portland on Wednesday.
Powell got the start with Kyle Lowry out, but tonight just wasn't his night. That being said, he has provided decent out of position blocks recently, and should still be a valuable asset with Lowry out.
November 14, 2019, 12:30 amMarc GasolC, Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol racked up four blocks to go along with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers on Wednesday.
Gasol has strung together a couple meaningful lines now and the four blocks help ease the disappointing start to the season. With Serge Ibaka sidelined by injury, Gasol has the opportunity to start working his way back to the top-100 value many were expecting.