Six months ago, the New Orleans Pelicans were an up-and-coming offensive juggernaut who hadn’t quite figured things out on the other end of the floor. Now, their former head coach Alvin Gentry is the associate head coach in Sacramento, the Kings have the 11th-best offense in the league while the Pelicans sit in 22nd, and New Orleans has vaulted to 13th in the NBA on defense.
Those defensive gains haven’t helped the Pelicans’ record, however, as they come into the Golden 1 Center on a five-game losing streak and down one of their starting guards. Other than their last game against the Lakers, New Orleans has been in every game, just unable to close out down the stretch. That bodes well for the Kings, who have five wins in their seven games that have been decided in the clutch.
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
When: Sunday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Projected Starting Lineups:
Kings (5-8): De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, Richaun Holmes
Pelicans (4-7): Eric Bledsoe, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Steven Adams
Kings: Marvin Bagley III (left wrist), Hassan Whiteside (left hip) — QUESTIONABLE; Jahmi’us Ramsey (groin), DaQuan Jeffries (ankle) — OUT
Pelicans: Lonzo Ball (knee) — OUT
Sacramento is dealing with some injury issues of its own. Hassan Whiteside missed Friday’s loss to the Clippers, and now he and Marvin Bagley III are both questionable for tonight’s contest. If Bagley is out as well, presumably Nemanja Bjelica would re-enter the rotation after sitting out the last three games.
The key here will be seeing if the Kings can rise to the defensive challenge against a team that is very successful in isolation but one that won’t kill Sacramento with ball movement. If the Kings can hone in on their own assignments, this is a game they can win to end the homestand on a high note.
What are you looking to see from the Kings today? Comment below, and enjoy the game!