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Kings vs. Raptors Preview: Return of the King

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Rudy Gay returns to the city that spurned him, and the Kings see a few old friends as the road trip continues.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay is returning to the city where he started the season as the Kings take on the Raptors (4:00 pm on Comcast SportsNet California, NBA TV and KHTK 1140). Since the trade, the Raptors have blossomed, currently holding the 3rd best record in the East, while Rudy Gay has been a paragon of efficiency.  In other words, the trade has worked out pretty well for both teams.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Isaiah Thomas vs. Kyle Lowry

Lowry has probably been the biggest reason for Toronto's resurgence.  Despite not making the All-Star team (even over his teammate DeMar DeRozan), he's been Toronto's best player and is playing the best basketball of his career.  Lowry is a bulldog on both ends of the floor, able to both lock down on defense, get into the lane, or hit big threes.  The last time these two teams played in Sacramento a month ago, Thomas was able to outscore Lowry by a couple points but shot a much worse percentage from the field.  The Kings will need Thomas to keep Lowry busy on both ends of the floor.

3 THINGS

1. Few teams have been as hot as Toronto has lately.  They've won 7 of 9, and are coming off a solid win against the Golden State Warriors.  Their two losses in that 9-game stretch have been by a combined 7 points.  The Raptors have improved greatly on both ends of the court and are now 10th in Offensive Rating and 7th in Defensive Rating.  This is not a team to take lightly, even if they play in the weak Eastern Conference.

2.  Of the players that the Kings traded to Toronto in exchange for Rudy Gay, perhaps none has done better than Patrick Patterson.  Patterson was in a huge shooting slump in Sacramento this season, but in Toronto his percentages have gone up to 48.5% overall and 42.3% from three.  That's more in line with what Kings fans had hoped to see at the start of the year but for whatever reason didn't.

3.  Ray McCallum has had two good games in a row, including scoring a career-high 15 points on 7 of 10 shooting against Milwaukee.  Can he play well again, this time against a good Raptors team with many veteran guards?

PRE-GAME HAIKU

Rudy and Rob Ford,
Toronto hates both a lot.
Can't trade Rob Ford though.

PREDICTION

Kings 109, Raptors 110 as Chuck Hayes hits the game winning three. Nobody expects Chuck Hayes.