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Kings vs. Magic preview: A great opportunity to get back on track

Sacramento continues its five-game homestand with a matchup against a struggling Orlando team.

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings continue their five-game homestand with a date against the struggling Orlando Magic.

Sacramento is coming off a 119-111 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers, snapping its four-game winning streak. This will be the second meeting between the two teams. The Kings beat the Magic 121-107 in Orlando on Jan. 27.

Game Information

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

When: Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. PT

How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM

Opposing perspective: Orlando Pinstriped Post

Projected Starting Lineups

Kings (12-12): De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, Richaun Holmes

Magic (9-17): Frank Mason III, Gary Clark, James Ennis III, Dwayne Bacon, Nikola Vucevic

Injuries/Absences

Kings: DaQuan Jeffries (left ankle) — DOUBTFUL; Jahmi’us Ramsey and Rob Woodard (G League) — OUT

Magic: Aaron Gordon (ankle) — OUT; Cole Anthony (shoulder), Evan Fournier (back), Al-Farouq Aminu (knee) — QUESTIONABLE

Sacramento has been playing its best basketball of the season of late. The team has won seven of its last nine games and sits ninth in the Western Conference. De’Aaron Fox has been a big reason for the turnaround.

The point guard is averaging 27.8 points and eight assists during the Kings’ recent hot stretch. Fox has been clutch in crunch time. He’s averaging 9.7 points in the fourth quarter during the 7-2 run, third-most out of all NBA players.

Another reason Sacramento has been better over the past three weeks is the defense. Head coach Luke Walton and the squad used the extra time off from the two Memphis Grizzlies games’ postponement to sharpen things up on their own end.

The Kings rank ninth in defensive rating since Jan. 22 and are giving up 110.3 points per game over that stretch. The big man trio of Richaun Holmes, Marvin Bagley III and Hassan Whiteside will have their hands full with Orlando center Nicola Vucevic.

Vucevic leads the Magic in scoring (23.3 points) and rebounds (11.6) per game. Despite Vucevic’s stellar play, Orlando is struggling after starting the season 4-0. The Magic have 17 out of 21 games since.

The main reason for Orlando’s slide has been its play on the offensive end. The team sits dead last in field goal percentage, 25th in 3-point percentage and averages just 104.7 points per game.

The Magic have also been hit hard by the injury bug. They already lost Markelle Fultz to a season-ending knee injury and will be without the high-flying Aaron Gordon, who is out another 3-5 weeks after hurting his ankle. Orlando could also be missing Cole Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams.

The Kings should look to push the pace against an undermanned Orlando squad. The Magic lost to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, so they should have some tired legs. Sacramento is the superior offensive team, and if it can make it a high-scoring affair, Orlando will have a difficult time keeping up.