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Kings vs. Raptors Preview: Time to right the ship

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento's looking to end a three-game losing streak today as they face the visiting Toronto Raptors.  The Raptors hold the Eastern Conference's best record but recently lost their best player in DeMar DeRozan to an ankle injury.  The Kings have also been without their best player for the past two games, but hopefully he should be back in action tonight.  Tonight's action tips off at 7:00 pm  on Comcast SportsNet California, NBA TV and on KHTK 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1. The Raptors are a dangerous team, with the 2nd best offense in the NBA and the 9th best defense.  Thanks to a trade with us last year and some smart signings, they also have a lot of depth.  The Raptors will be without DeMar DeRozan, their best player tonight, and they have lost two straight since his injury, but they're still a team that shouldn't be taken lightly.  They're excellent at forcing turnovers (5th in opponent turnovers and 6th in steals), and thanks to their guard play they excel in fast break situations.  They're also very good at getting to the line, second only to Sacramento themselves.

2. Lou Williams is proving to be a really important player for the Raptors.  Last week he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.  He's averaging 14.6 points (including a career-high 40% from three) in just 21.1 minutes a game, and those minutes are likely to go up in DeRozan's absence.

3. The Kings should have the advantage in the frontcourt as Toronto has the advantage in the backcourt.  Jonas Valanciunas has shown a lot of promise this season, but he shouldn't be able to stop DeMarcus Cousins by himself, as we've seen in the past.  Cousins has flourished against the Raptors, with his 22.9 point average against them in 7 career games being his best against any team.  The Kings should feed the big man early and often.  If DeMarcus is not available, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and Rudy Gay should take advantage of post-up opportunities.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Kyle Lowry vs. Darren Collison

DeMar DeRozan might be Toronto's best player but this is Kyle Lowry's team.  Lowry has had a career renaissance in Toronto and he's leading the charge for the Raptors.  He's averaging 19.2 points, 6.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 33.8 minutes a game this season.  The one thing he's struggled at early this year is with his long distance shot, which he's hitting at just a 29.9% rate, but that's probably just a minor slump, as he's been around the 37% mark the last few seasons.  Lowry's a very tough and physical Point Guard and it will be a very tough matchup for Darren Collison on both ends as Lowry is bigger and stronger.

PREGAME LIMERICK

The Kings need to get back on  track,
hopefully Cousins is back.
Beat the flu,
Beat them too,
Otherwise we might have to play Shaq.

PREDICTION

Kings 109, Raptors 103 after it's discovered the real reason for the dinosaurs' extinction is DeMarcus Cousins.