A brutal road trip has ended and the comforts of their home court are calling the Kings to play as Friday night they take on the talented, but cellar dwelling Suns. Owners of the worst record in the Western Conference (and only four games back of the Kings) the Suns are building around a core of young athletes like Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, Sacramento native Marquese Chriss and T.J. Warren while bolstering the team with the veteran presence of Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler. While losers in nine of their last twelve, including the last five in a row, Phoenix won’t be a push over; they’ve beaten the Trail Blazers twice, the Raptors twice, and just two weeks ago caught the Spurs looking past them. Let’s hope the Kings are rested and ready to get back out there, because the Suns are a team to scorch you if you’re looking past them. Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Friday, February 3rd, 7:30 pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
The first thing the Kings should be looking to do tonight is stretch. Spend a little extra time with the foam roller, maybe hit up Kings guru Ramsey Nijem for some tips and tricks on not tearing muscles and tendons integral to playing basketball at a professional level, just, you know take care of yourselves out there guys. No seriously, just stop with the injury thing.
If the Kings can go the morning and afternoon without blowing out their biceps, then the next thing they should do is get prepared to pump fake all night long. Phoenix comes into this game the most foul-happy team in the NBA, and with three of the five highest fouling members of the Suns being power forward/centers, get ready to see DeMarcus, Willie and Kosta catching ‘bows for free throws, ya know? Surprisingly enough the man most likely to foul you on the Suns is their young stud shooting guard Devin Booker. With Garett Temple’s injury opening up more time for the likes of Malachi Richardson, it would be nice to see if Richardson could continue to make those smooth swooping moves toward the rim like we’ve seen from him lately and maybe bait Booker into some foul trouble early on.
The Kings should also be prepared to get out and run. Phoenix allows their opponents to score an average of 112.3 points per game, and they run at the fourth fastest pace in the NBA, meaning they’ve baited most of their opponents into a fast paced game (and that they aren’t very good yet at winning those games). The Kings are finally coming down off of playing Lord of the Rings, with all this traipsing around the country, and while Boogie might expect that he can just jump a ship with Gandalf, Elrond and Gladriel to the Undying Lands, the truth is that he’s got to get out there again tonight and play this game all over again. There’s hope though. The Suns are 25th in the league in turnovers, and 28th in rebounding. The Kings are going to have transition opportunities all night long if they play their cards right.
Phoenix is a very talented young team that hasn’t learned to win consistently yet. They turn the ball over too much, and don’t shoot well enough on any given night to make up for that, but they’re still a dangerous team for a squad like the Kings; tired after a long road trip, weary of seeing big time injuries and possibly looking past a team they beat handily to begin the season. If they can force the thin front court of the Suns into some early fouls, take advantage of the turnovers they’re begging to make and not have anyone else end up back in the locker room, the Kings should still be able to handle this team. If they let the Suns stick around or get out to a lead early, there might not be enough gas in the tank for another Cardiac Kings comeback.
DeMarcus will be up to his usual shenanigans against a young and slap happy big man core, Malachi Richardson will prove to the few remaining doubters as to why so many of us are claiming he’ll be better than Jordan, and Phoenix natives will always regret having their arena named the Walking Stick Resort Arena.
Kings: 115, Suns: 106