After Saturday night's win against Paul George and the Pacers, the Sacramento Kings found themselves with a 5 game win streak, a 48 point game from DeMarcus Cousins, and a new franchise record holder for most triple doubles in a season in Rajon Rondo. The Kings are flying high in January, and now must face a Charlotte Hornets team on Monday night that has recorded just four wins in 2016 and own a road record with just five wins all season. The Sacramento Kings also catch the Hornets at a time where the injury bug has settled down with the Charlotte squad, as three starters, their sixth man and a bench big are missing games recently.
With the Kings still only a game up on the Jazz, but only 3.5 games out of the sixth seed, the Kings should be salivating at a home game against the banged up Hornets. This game can be seen at Sleep Train Arena or on CSN-CA, can be heard on KHTK 1140, and starts at 7 pm. Let's talk Kings basketball.
A Few Things to Consider:
Lest We Forget: The last time the Sacramento Kings played the Charlotte Hornets, fans were treated to a third quarter in which the Kings allowed only 14 points, scoring 31 of their own and taking what was a tie at halftime and turning it into a 17 point lead. Kings fans were celebrating, wondering if this was the Kings team we'd all been seeing glimmers of, and then it was a hard fall back to reality. The Kings gave up 38 points in the fourth and had to scramble to force overtime with a Rondo to Rudy alley-oop at the buzzer. In OT, Jeremy Lin scored 8 points and the Kings left their fans to pull every last hair out their head yet again. This time around the Sacramento Kings have a couple of things going for them.
For one, they seem to have figured out their starting lineup, especially that Willie Cauley-Stein should be a part of it. While Willie did start in that earlier game, he only played a total of 8 minutes. This time around, Willie Cauley-Stein has seemingly earned himself some extra time, and has used that time to corral in much of what comes through the lane against him.
As previously mentioned, the Kings also have the injury bug spending some extended time with the Hornets. Both Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb have missed the previous two games with a sore toe and are questionable for the game against the Kings. Starting center Al Jefferson will miss six weeks of action with a knee injury. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still out recovering from a shoulder injury that has so far cost him the entire season and back up center Cody Zeller will also be missing time with a shoulder injury.
This leaves the Hornets in a tough situation when it comes to DeMarcus Cousins. Right now, the only big men on the Hornets are the rookie Frank Kaminsky, the still-an-NBA-player Spencer Hawes and the artist formerly known as Psycho-T, Tyler Hansbrough. A veritable feast for DeMarcus, it will be interesting to see the lineups that Hornets coach Steve Clifford will be forced to employ in order to contain the growing behemoth that is Boogie Cousins.
Speak of the Devil: This will be a horse that is beat into the ground well after it has died, but DeMarcus Cousins is having an absolutely fantastic January. After Saturday night's game against the Pacers, DeMarcus is now up to third in the NBA in scoring at 26.7 points per game, and is 4th in the NBA in rebounding at 12.1 a game. Here's another stat that is as equally nitpicky as it is slobber worthy. In the month of January alone, DeMarcus is averaging 32.5 points per game. With the Kings at 8-3 on the month, DeMarcus is finally proving that he can be the leading scorer on a winning team. Let's hope that his great month is more a sign of what DMC looks like when healthy, than another (albeit long) flash in the pan.
Odds and Ends:
This game sees the return of former Sacramento King, Spencer Hawes. Once upon a time, this preview writer I know was told that his hair cut, facial hair and style of basketball play looked "exactly like Spencer Hawes!". Less than 4 hours later, his hair was cut and his face was clean shaven. His reputation for being a big guy with a bad three pointer percentage, however, remained intact. I loved my long hair, Spencer.
Charlotte gets led into Sacramento like a lamb to the slaughter, DeMarcus gets through the Hornets defense like a wooden horse at the gates of Troy, and to be quite frank, the Kings kick the snot out of the struggling Hornets: KIngs 115, Hornets 95.
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