March 11, 2018, 1:37 pm
In the last five games, the Kings and Nuggets each have a 3-2 record. As far as the rest of the season is concerned, however, the two teams have different stories.
Sacramento (21-45) will head to Denvers to face the 36-30 Nuggets for the fourth and final time on the season.
Although the Kings have gotten wins over lackluster opponents in March, the ability to pull out some close games has to be a positive sign for coach Dave Joerger. In the Kings’ three wins the margin of victory has been just under five points per contest.
Most recently, the Kings knocked off the Magic at the Golden 1 Center. The final score was much closer than the actual game itself for the most part as both teams went back and forth playing hot potato with the basketball. There were a total of 30 turnovers in the game, 16 of which were by Sacramento.
The Kings, who average just over 14 turnovers per game will have to keep better control of the ball if they hope to contend with the Nuggets.
Both teams came out victorious in their games on Friday with the Kings being led by veterans Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos who combined for 41 points. Koufos also snagged 13 rebounds for Sacramento and helped the Kings out-rebound the Magic 50-34.
Although the Kings will be playing without Skal Labissiere, who hurt his hip after colliding with Jonathon Simmons in the first quarter of Friday’s game, they should look to the interior to defeat the Nuggets. Denver is allowing just under 108 points per game. The Kings, though, have only averaged about 99 points per game on the year and have averaged just 98 points per game in their last two wins.
In the Nuggets win over the red-hot Lakers, a big fourth quarter and excellent production out of the backcourt helped secure a win. Jamal Murray had 22 points and Gary Harris added 19 of his own. The two guards also combined for 13 of the team’s 30 assists.
The Kings may be playing without a couple of their young talents if Willie Cauley-Stein and De’Aaron Fox continue to sit due to back issues. With the lack of depth on the roster at the time being, Jack Cooley saw some time in Friday’s win and produced well. He played solid interior defense, pulled three rebounds and had eight points in just eight minutes.
As the season winds down, Joerger and company will hope to see some consistent play; something that hasn’t happened much this season. The Kings are locked in on a top-seven lottery pick more than likely but will look to see some dividends on the floor, even if some of the team’s potential building blocks are on the sideline.
PG – Frank Mason
SG – Garrett Temple
SF – Justin Jackson
PF – Zach Randolph
C – Kosta Koufos
De’Aaron Fox (back) – PROBABLE
Willie Cauley-Stein (back) – PROBABLE
Skal Labissiere (hip) – OUT
HOW TO WATCH
When: 2:00 p.m. PST (5:00 p.m. ET)
Where: NBCS California