When the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, nobody could have imagined that two years later the Sacramento Kings would have a better record than the Pelicans, yet here we are with the Kings at 17-15 and the Pelicans at 15-18. Buddy Hield, the primary return for Cousins, has been playing like a star recently and has been one of the best shooters in the entire league. But despite their record, the Pelicans should not be considered pushovers. Anthony Davis remains a top-five talent in the NBA and Jrue Holiday is one of the best two-way guards. The Kings will need to be on top of their game and will need a much better start than they’ve had in their last few games in order to top the Pelicans.
Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Sunday, December 23rd, 3:00 PM PST
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
The last time these two teams met early in the season, the Kings put up 129 points... but they also allowed the Pelicans to put up 149, in regulation no less. One bit of good news on that front however is that most of that damage was done by Nikola Mirotic, who scored 36 points on 14 of 21 from the field. Mirotic couldn’t be stopped, but he is doubtful to play tonight against the Kings due to an ankle injury. Elfrid Payton, is also out for New Orleans.
The Pelicans do have some decent depth in the frontcourt however after adding Julius Randle this summer. Randle is averaging 19.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists on the season, mostly from the bench. In Mirotic’s absence he has been starting and doing even better with averages of 23.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He’s a handful by himself, let alone with Anthony Davis to deal with. Sacramento’s interior defense has been poor all season, and Randle and Davis could have a field day.
The Kings do have the advantage in the backcourt however. Jrue Holiday is really good, but aside from him, the Pelicans are razor thin, especially without Payton. They have been starting 6-1 guard Tim Frazier in recent games and have also been relying on E’Twaun Moore and Ian Clark. The Kings rotation of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Yogi Ferrell should hopefully feast.
Pace won’t be as much of an ally to the Kings as it is in most matchups. The Pelicans also like to play fast, and they’re more efficient on offense than Sacramento, mostly thanks to the greatness of Anthony Davis. Davis will likely get his, but if the Kings can at least make him work for it and keep New Orleans from having anyone else get hot, they should have a decent chance at coming away with a victory and going 2-1 on this homestand against some tough opponents. They stole the game against the Grizzlies, but it’s been a few games since the Kings came out and set the tone. Hopefully they get back on track today.
Nemanja Bjelica, fresh off postering JJJ, decides that his new goal in life is to become the best NBA dunker in existence and proceeds to poster Anthony Davis. Davis, so humiliated by being dunked on by Nemanja, declares his allegiance to the Kings and changes teams at halftime. Alvin Gentry protests, saying that this is clearly against the rules and his contract, but Davis proceeds to score 40 points in the second half for Sacramento and the Kings win comfortably.
Kings 149, Pelicans 99