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Kings vs. Pelicans Preview: The Quest for Five

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings are finally starting to click and their riding high on a four game win streak headed into New Orleans tonight.  The Pelicans are technically still in the Western Conference Playoff race but a loss to Sacramento would be their fifth straight and a huge blow to their hopes. Tonight's game tips off at 5:00 pm Pacific on CSN California and KHTK Sports 1140.

3 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1.  The Pelicans are definitely hurting.  Jrue Holiday has been out for a while, Ryan Anderson remains out with knee issues, and Anthony Davis has been on and off the court with various injuries all season.  Davis is expected to play tonight, but he's probably not 100%.

2. New Orleans has lost their last four games and five of their last six.  Before that they had won nine of 11 games.  This Pelicans team is playing for their playoff lives at the moment and they're floundering, partly in due to the tough Western Conference competition, partly due to injuries, and partly due to defensive incompetence.  For a team with as many athletes as they have, and the imposing presence of Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are somehow just 24th overall defensively.

3. How have the Kings won four in a row?  By playing defense.  Since March 19th, during a stretch the Kings have won four in a row, their defense has been the second best in the entire NBA, while their offense has remained relatively similar.  They have the fifth best net rating during that period behind the Warriors, Clippers, Spurs and Cavaliers.  Now, to be fair, three of those teams that Sacramento has beaten during the streak are in the bottom third of the league in terms of Offensive Rating.  New Orleans will pose a more difficult challenge, especially on their home floor, but if Sacramento can keep the defensive intensity up and the offense moving, five wins in a row isn't unfathomable.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Anthony Davis vs. DeMarcus Cousins

These two big men and former Wildcats likely won't see too much time against each other but they're both the lynchpins of their respective teams.  Davis is having an almost MVP-worthy season in just his third year, with an obscene league-leading PER of 31.2.  The Kings have actually handled Davis rather well in their first two meetings of the year, holding him below his averages in every category.  Cousins on the other hand has feasted on the Pelicans to the tune of 23 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4 assists a game and will look to do the same tonight.

PREGAME LIMERICK

If the Kings hope to win five in a row,
they'll need the help of Sauce Castillo,
that fiery outlaw
from Mississauga,
with a shooting stroke like a rainbow.

PREDICTION

Kings 108, Pelicans 101 after a closed captioning error accidentally reverses the scores.  However the internet has so much fun with it that the NBA actually makes it the official final result, giving the Kings the win.