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Kings vs. Magic Preview: Who takes over in Cousins' absence?

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This was the coolest freaking dunk I think I've ever seen in the dunk contest.
This was the coolest freaking dunk I think I've ever seen in the dunk contest.
Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

With Orlando missing starters Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton, this game should be an ideal matchup for the Sacramento Kings.  Alas, this is the game that DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended for, meaning any interior advantage the Kings might have had is probably gone.  The Kings have only won twice this season without Cousins, both against the Milwaukee Bucks.  Let's see if they can do it a third time.  Tip-off's at 7:00 pm Pacific and you can listen to it on KHTK 1140 or watch it on CSN-California.

Three Things

1. Who takes over the scoring load?  Ideally we see more people get involved in the offense instead of the team running isolation plays for Rudy Gay.  I do think Rudy will have to become the primary option on offense, but without Cousins playing, I'd like to see the team really get out there and run in transition.  Guys like Willie Cauley-Stein and Quincy Acy are ideal targets for Rajon Rondo to find in transition, and I think Omri Casspi could do some damage on the fastbreak as well.

2. Orlando gets to the line the least of any team in the league.  The Kings should use this to their advantage and look to attack the basket often and get some free throw advantage.  Cousins is a big reason why the Kings shoot some of the most free throws in the league, but guys like Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison all excel at taking it to the rim themselves.  The Kings shouldn't be trying to get into a shootout with the Magic; Instead, they should be looking to take advantage of Orlando's own lack of size and rim protection.

3. Orlando's exactly the type of team I'd call if the Kings ever decided to trade Cousins.  They've got young assets like Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton as well as solid players entering their prime like Nikola Vucevic.  Some mix of that type of talent is what I'd want in return for Cousins, plus you'd have the added bonus of the Magic actually getting the disgruntled big man for once instead of the other way around.

Prediction

Kings 114, Magic 107 as Sacramento puts together a good enough performance to stop the losing streak.