by Charlie O. Mallonee
Tale of the Tape
Sacramento Kings 15-20
- 8th place Western Conference – final Playoff slot if the season ended today
- 15.5 games behind 1st place Golden State
- one-half game ahead of 9th place Portland
- Home 7-8 Road 8-12
- Last 10 games 6-4
- Current Streak Lost 1
Los Angeles Clippers 24-14
- 4th place Western Conference
- 8.0 games behind 1st place Golden State
- 4.5 games behind 3rd place Houston
- Home 13-6 Road 11-8
- Last 10 games 4-6
- Current streak Won 2
Results of last games played
The Kings suffered an embarrassing loss on Wednesday night at home to the lowly Miami Heat 107-102. The Heat came into the game with an 10-26 record and team that has been decimated by injury. Miami was without Hassan Whiteside (retinal contusion) and Justise Winslow (right shoulder that requires season-ending surgery). The Kings were without Rudy Gay (hip flexor) and coming off a win on Tuesday night on the road in Denver. The situation certainly seemed to favor Sacramento on their home court despite the back-to-back scenario.
The Heat came out fast and full of energy while the Kings seemed sluggish. Miami scored 64 points in the first half while shooting 63-percent. The Kings fought their way back into the game in the second half by virtue of a 13-0 run at the end of the third quarter. Ultimately, the Kings ran out of gas and lost the game.
With games coming up with the Clippers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Thunder on this homestand, the game with Miami was one the Kings could not afford to lose. Now, they have to try and get healthy against the always tough Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers have been hit hard by injuries. Point guard Chris Paul has been on the sidelines with hamstring problems and forward Blake Griffin is out due to “minor” knee surgery. The Clippers had to host the Memphis Grizzlies who played the Lakers in Staples Center on Tuesday losing 116-102. The Grizzlies were without JaMychal Green (maxilla fracture suffered in the Lakers game) and Mike Conley who was held out for rest after having missed games with a toe injury.
The Clippers were led by Austin Rivers who scored a game-high 28 points in 44-minutes on the floor. His coach and father Doc Rivers said they just could not take him off the floor. DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double putting up 18 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. JJ Redick punished the Grizzlies from outside scoring 19 points. Jamal Crawford came off the bench to add 22 points. LAC shot 50.7-percent from the field for the game and beat the Grizzlies 115-106.
The victory over Memphis was the second consecutive win for the Clippers who broke a six-game losing streak on Monday night with a win over Phoenix. Now, the Clippers will play in Sacramento looking to make in three wins in a row.
The Clippers beat the Kings 121-115 in the first meeting of the year back in November at the Golden 1 Center. Sacramento was down by as many as 26 points in that game but made a big run at the Clippers in the fourth quarter to close within two points, 117-115, as the game neared the close. The Kings were not be able to score again and lost by six points.
DeMarcus Cousins scored 38 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and had seven assists for the Kings. Blake Griffin put up 29 points for the Clippers while JJ Redick scored 26 hitting 6-of-8 3-point shots.
The Kings have listed Rudy Gay as doubtful as the hip flexor continues to plague the talented forward. Doubtful means there is a 25-percent chance of Gay playing Friday night. As much as the Kings need him, do not count on see Rudy Gay in this game.
Guard Ty Lawson scored 15 points against the Heat despite having a sub conjunctival hemorrhage right/blurred vision (or as one talk show host called it “a broken face”). As a precaution Lawson is listed as questionable which means he is 50-50 to play on Friday.
The Clippers have Chris Paul listed as doubtful but Doc Rivers said that the decision will be based on the guard’s condition after a full workout on Thursday. Paul and the team have made no secret that they would like to their star return to action on Friday night in Sacramento.
Blake Griffin (knee surgery) and Brice Johnson (herniated disc, lower back) are out and will not play.
What do the teams need to do to win
- Sacramento needs to shoot well from midrange and from beyond the arc. The Kings are capable of shooting well from the floor. They shot better than 50-percent in the loss to Miami on Wednesday. Strong shooting performances from Barnes, Collison, Tolliver, Temple, Afflalo and Lawson – if he is able to go – will be necessary to help take the pressure off DeMarcus Cousins.
- The Kings will also need a big night on the boards from DeMarcus Cousins. DeAndre Jordan will grabbing rebounds without abandon for the Clippers, the Kings will need Cousins to do the same for them.
- The Kings defense will also need to concentrate on shutting down the 3-point shooting of the Clippers. JJ Redick will take every opportunity given to him to heave up a 3-pointer. This is a weak point for the Kings. They need to work hard on stopping the 3-point shots on Friday night.
- LAC needs to shoot from beyond the arc until it hurts. This has been the Achilles heal of the Kings all season long. JJ Redick is a shooting guard who can destroy a team from 3-point land. He needs to establish that dominance early and often against the Kings on Friday night.
- The Clippers will need a strong defensive performance from Luc Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan to contain DeMarcus Cousins if they are to beat the Kings. If you stop Cousins, you stop the Kings. The problem is – it may take more than two players to stop Cousins.
- Los Angeles could really use the presence of point guard of Chris Paul on Friday night. The Kings are going to play angry after losing to Miami on Wednesday night. Having the incredible skills of the all-star point guard to counteract that anger would really benefit the Clippers.
What do the experts predict?
- FiveThirtyEight.com says this game will go to the Clippers. They give the Clippers a 54-percent chance of winning the game. FiveThirtyEight.com says to take LAC minus one point.
- The Desert Dwellers either have no idea how to call this game or do not care about the game because as of 7 a.m. PST Friday no odds or over/under had been posted for this contest.
Complete postgame coverage tonight on sportsradioservice.com. Listen to the Kings podcast every Tuesday with Charlie O.