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Kings vs. Magic Preview: A Big Game For a Bad Reason

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It might be an oxymoron, but the winner of this game might end up being the actual loser.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Orlando Magic Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings have lost eight in a row but have had some close games along the way. They’ve taken the Jazz and Wizards to Overtime. They’ve held a 28 point lead against the Spurs. And they’ve managed to lose every single time.

Tonight, they actually face a team with a record even worse than their own. The Magic also made a big trade of their own, sending big man Serge Ibaka to Toronto for shooting guard Terrence Ross. Ross is shooting just 38.3% from the field and 26.0% from three. Poor shooting is nothing new for Frank Vogel’s squad, as they’ve managed to be one of the worst offensive teams in the league all season, coming in at 29th in Offensive Rating for the season.

Part of the reason for their poor outside shooting is their glut of big men. Orlando had some very confusing offseason signings where they added Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green to a frontcourt that already had Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. Gordon has been forced to play a little out of position as a SF as a result. Trading Ibaka helped a little bit, but there’s still a bunch of mismatched pieces, especially since their Point Guard, Elfrid Payton, can’t shoot from outside either.

This game has a more interesting connotation for both teams than simply winning. If Sacramento loses tonight, they fall to only a half game behind Orlando and Philadelphia for the 4th worst record in the league. Now, considering that Philadelphia can swap picks with Sacramento if we get a better pick anyway, that’s not as important as it normally might be, but still, the Kings would have a better shot at their best case scenario (the 2nd pick, with Philly winning 1st).

But Sacramento’s likely circling this game and the one on Wednesday against Phoenix on their calendars, because after that, they have to play seven straight playoff teams, mostly on the road. If they don’t win tonight or Wednesday, this losing streak could double in size.

Winning hardly matters if the young guys aren’t getting any playing time, but fortunately, we’ve seen plenty of the them in recent games. Buddy Hield looks like a full-time starter now after putting together two solid games in a row. Willie Cauley-Stein continues to be a core rotation member, and Skal Labissiere is making the most of the minutes he’s getting (and probably should get more). If those guys keep playing well, I’m satisfied.

Tonight’s Toilet Bowl tips-off at 7:30 p.m. As always, Go Kings!