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Kings vs. Spurs Preview: A chance to close the gap

Or fall further in the standings.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings had an opportunity to close the gap between them and the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference when they played the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. Instead, they lost by 30 points. That’s not ideal.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending where you stand on their lofty ambitions to make a late push for the play-in tournament), the Kings will have another opportunity to make up ground between them and a team ahead of them in the standings when they play the Spurs in San Antonio on Thursday.

The Kings and Spurs are tied 1-1 in their regular season series, with their last matchup coming on Dec. 19. The Kings won that game 121-114 in spite of the absences of De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell and Terence Davis thanks to trio of stellar performances from Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton and Damian Jones, all of whom had at least 20 points.

While Hield and Haliburton are no longer part of the team, and Jones hasn’t had a 20-plus-point game since, the Kings should feel confident in what they have offensively in Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Harrison Barnes. It’s the defensive end they should be worried about.

Since the All-Star break, the Spurs have close to a top-five offense, scoring 118.1 points per 100 possessions. For context, the Kings are ranked 22nd.

If it’s a shoot-out the Kings want, they’ll likely be disappointed, but if they play a well-balanced game — and that’s a big if for this team — then they should be able to steal one on the road. And if they don’t, at least they get closer to the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

How to Watch/Listen: NBC Sports California, Sports 1140 KHTK

Opposing Perspective: Pounding the Rock

SAC injuries/absences: Terence Davis - Out (Wrist), Richaun Holmes - Questionable (Back)

SAS injuries/absences: No injuries to report