As Sacramento's road trip ended on Wednesday night in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Sacramento Kings record in March drops to 3-10, they find themselves sitting very comfortably outside of the race for the playoffs, and in the drivers seat of yet another lottery pick. Unaware that these final few weeks of the schedule were deemed "the easy part" mere weeks ago, the Kings have risen to the challenge to make them hard, losing in March to every team beneath them in the standings, save for the Lakers and Friday night's opponent, the Phoenix Suns. Granted those are the only four teams at this point in the season that are below them, but the point is, the Kings are playing the worst basketball of the year against the softest part of the schedule this season. Call it tanking, call it losing the locker room, call it a cab and get it the heck out of here because it's uglier than an Adrienne Maloof designed Anaheim Royals jersey. Friday's game against Phoenix will be the third matchup against them this season, with one appearance being a Phoenix win in the very beginning of the season, and the second being that 142-119 blowout win that the Kings had in the first game of 2016. They'll meet one last time in Phoenix in the second to last game of the season.
Friday's game can be seen at Sleep Train Arena or on CSN-CA, can be heard on KHTK 1140, and will start at 7pm PST. Let's talk Kings basketball.
A Couple of Questions:
Can the Kings play four quarters of basketball?: Even though Sacramento is coming home from their four game road trip with a single win, they really weren't blown out in any of those games. What has been a common Achilles heel for the Kings this season has been their inability to defend for all four quarters, and this road trip was quite a display of their defensive inadequacies. In each of the losses of this road trip, the Kings found a way to give up a big chunk of points over the course of a quarter. Detroit scored 39 points in the first quarter to Sacramento's 25, Chicago's biggest point difference was six, but it came during the fourth in what ended up being a seven point loss for the Kings, and Minnesota picked up 34 points in the third to Sacramento's 24. Even in their win against the Knicks, Sacramento gave up 35 points to a Melo-less New York squad, in a second quarter that the Kings themselves could only muster 22 points. Wait a second. Big first quarter deficit to Detroit, big second quarter deficit to New York, give away the fourth quarter against Chicago, big third quarter deficit against Minnesota. 1-2-4-3. This has to mean something right? A code?! A plea for help in the form of a numeric cypher, maybe! The boys are trying to tell us what's really going on here! It has to be, they can't really be this bad!
Wait. Yes they can.
Re-watching LOST to ease the pain of this season might not have been the best choice.
How many points are going to be scored tonight? The Sacramento Kings are exactly dead last in the NBA in opponents points per game. The Phoenix Suns are 29th in the league in opponent's points per game. If you'd believe it, the Kings are actually holding opponents a whole point under their average over the last five games (thanks, New York!) at the lowly 108 points per game! Not to be outdone, Phoenix is holding teams to 6.2 points below their average in their last five games, at 101.4 points per game, with three wins sprinkled in their for good measure!
These teams weren't good defensively already, and now with literally zero incentive for either of these franchises to start playing NBA-level defense, this game could get ugly. It could get 130-125 style ugly, but now that it's been said, expect a 65-60 slugfest.
Odds and Ends:
This game once again sees the return of former Kings point guard Ronnie Price. Price is still wanted in connection to the attempted double homicide of Carlos Boozer and an innocent rim he was trying to protect during a November 22nd, 2006 game against the Utah Jazz.
Prediction: Kings let the frustration of this entire season all boil over into one game: George Karl gets ejected, DeMarcus scores 45 before being ejected and the referees eject every fan from the stands before ejecting themselves in protest. Kings play 3 quarters of angry basketball before the Suns forfeit due to insurmountable fear: Kings win. Final Score: 155-145.
For the other side of things, head on over to Bright Side Of The Sun