SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Kings face Nuggets before entering All-Star break

Feb 14, 2024, 9:25 AM

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets dribbling the ball is ...

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings won’t have an easy conclusion to the “first half” of the season on Wednesday night when they face the defending champions on the second night of a back-to-back.

While the Kings handily defeated the Denver Nuggets last week at Golden 1 Center, the script will flip this time around as Sacramento will be the one playing its second game in as many nights while having to travel.

Back-to-backs are challenging as is, but the Kings will have a tall task ahead of them after boarding a flight to the ‘Mile High City’ on the heels of a tough loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

The Nuggets are well rested entering play on Wednesday, while Sacramento had five players–De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, and Malik Monk–play 30 minutes or more on Tuesday night.

Ball Arena has been a house of horrors for the Kings since the 2016-17 season, as Sacramento holds a 1-9 record over their past ten matchups in Denver. The lone win? Buddy Hield’s tip-in buzzer-beater during opening night in 2020.

Since Hield’s game-winner, the Kings have lost their past three matchups against the Nuggets on their home floor. Can Sacramento break through and pick up a much-needed victory before entering the All-Star break?

YouTube video

Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets Game Info

When: 6:00 PM PST

Where: Ball Arena  – Denver, CO

TV: NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 4:30 PM on Game Night

Line: Nuggets -5.5, O/U 229.5

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Nuggets coverage, beginning at 4:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 6:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Denver.

Sabonis vs. Jokic

All eyes will be on the matchup in the middle on Wednesday as the NBA’s top two leaders in double-doubles and triple-doubles will face off.

Domantas Sabonis has posted three-straight triple-doubles, with Tuesday’s effort (35 points, 18 rebounds, 12 assists) being wasted in a losing effort. The three-time All-Star got the best of Nikola Jokic last Friday in Sacramento, but ‘The Joker’ will surely play with extra energy this time around now that Denver is rested.

These two bruising bigs will be the matchup to watch on Wednesday as Sabonis will look to improve to 3-0 this season against Jokic, who appears to be well on his way to a third NBA MVP award.

Unlocked Fox?

Following a rough stretch that saw him score less than 20 points in four consecutive games, De’Aaron Fox had the breakthrough performance he was looking for on Tuesday night.

Fox racked up his sixth 40-point effort of the season, finishing the night with 40 points (14-of-31 shooting from the field and five-of-12 from deep) to go along with nine rebounds, six assists, and three steals over 40 minutes of playing time.

Fatigue could be a factor for Fox in Denver, as the guard hasn’t logged consecutive games with 40+ minutes played since March of 2022.

If Fox can recharge enough to be on his game against the Nuggets, the Kings will need him near the top of his game as they hope to defy the odds and hand Denver (21-4 at home this season) its fifth loss at Ball Arena.

Over the past three seasons (nine games) Fox holds averages of 24.3 points, 8.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game on 52/41/83 shooting splits against the Nuggets.

Live by the 3, Die by the 3

When Sacramento is dialed in from long distance, wins usually follow.

While the Kings played well in Phoenix on Tuesday, they could never find consistency from beyond the arc as they finished the night nine-of-31 (29%) from three-point range.

In games that Sacramento has shot 35 percent or better from three, they hold a 24-8 record. In games where the Kings shoot below 35 percent, they hold a 6-15 record.

Denver is in the middle of the pack regarding NBA defense, as they have allowed opponents to shoot 36.6 percent from long range this season (14th).

The good news for the Kings is that they have caught fire in both matchups against the Nuggets this season:

  • December 2nd: 16/34 (47%)
  • February 9th: 17/34 (50%)
  • Total: 33/68 (48%)

Among all teams that Sacramento has faced two times or more this season, their three-point field goal percentage (48%) against Denver is their best against any opponent.

Kings vs. Nuggets Injury Report

Sacramento

  • Sasha Vezenkov – OUT (right ankle sprain)
  • Jordan Ford – OUT (G-League)
  • Jalen Slawson – OUT (G-League)
  • Mason Jones – OUT (G-League)

The rest of the Kings’ injury report will post at 12:30 PM PST

Denver

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – QUESTIONABLE (right hamstring tendinosis)
  • Jamal Murray – QUESTIONABLE (bilateral tibia inflammation)
  • Vlato Cancar – OUT (left knee surgery)
  • Hunter Tyson – OUT (left finger sprain/fracture)

Upcoming Schedule

  • Wednesday, February 14th – Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets – 6:00 PM PST
  • NBA All-Star break – February 15-21
  • Thursday, February 22nd – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, February 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Clippers – 6:30 PM PST
  • Monday, February 26th – Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, February 28th – Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets – 6:00 PM PST

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