SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Kings look to get back on track vs. Hawks

Dec 29, 2023, 9:50 AM

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 04: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks dribbling the ball while d...

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Last season, the Sacramento Kings handled adversity gracefully, especially when answering back after a rough loss.

On the heels of Tuesday’s ugly loss in Portland–arguably Sacramento’s worst effort of the season–the Kings will look to get back into the win column on Friday night when they face the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.

The Hawks (12-18) enter play having lost three straight games and 11 of their past 15 games overall.

Sacramento (17-12) has lost consecutive games for the first time since November 20-22nd (both in New Orleans) as they will try to avoid tying a season-long three-game losing streak.

Can the Kings get back on track and light the beam before looking forward to their final game of 2023?

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Sacramento Kings vs. Atlanta Hawks Game Info

When: 4:30 PM PST

Where: State Farm Arena – Atlanta, GA

TV: NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 3:00 PM on Game Night

Line: Hawks -1.5, O/U 250.5

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Hawks coverage, beginning at 3:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 4:30 PM PST tip-off from downtown Atlanta.

Another Test For The Defense

Sacramento seemed to be making progress on the defensive end during the first month of the season, but that progress has waned.

The Kings are fresh off of Tuesday’s loss to Portland that saw the Blazers, the NBA’s second-lowest-scoring team (108.6 points per game), rack up a season-high 130 points on 50-40-80 shooting splits.

Things won’t get any easier for Sacramento on Friday night against a Hawks team that is currently ranked third in scoring (122.3 points per game), fifth in made field goals, and seventh in made three-point field goals.

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All-Star guard Trae Young is off to a strong start to 2023-24, averaging 28.1 points and 11.3 assists per game on 38 percent shooting from three-point range.

With Young thriving in the starting lineup and old friend Bogdan Bogdanovic looking like a strong candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, Atlanta has no shortage of threats on the offensive end.

While the Hawks are one of the better offensive teams in the league, they rank near the bottom of the league in defense (28th in defensive rating).

Sacramento will have to turn in a much better defensive effort than they displayed in Portland, otherwise they won’t be able to fully take advantage of Atlanta’s weak defense that has allowed opponents to score 122.8 points per game this season (28th in the NBA).

Who Will Step Up?

De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis put on a show during Tuesday’s loss against the Blazers.

Fox scored 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting. Sabonis scored a season-high 34 points on 14-of-19 shooting. That’s 77 points on 30-of-45 (66%) shooting from the field.

The rest of the Kings’ offense? 36 points on 15-of-48 (31%) shooting, including three-for-27 (11%) from three-point range.

That can’t happen.

Fox knocked down a career-high seven triples during the losing effort while shooters like Kevin Huerter (1/5), Keegan Murray (1/7), and Malik Monk (1/7) struggled to find the bottom of the net from long distance.

Friday gives Sacramento a chance to reignite its offense against a lackluster Hawks defense. While Fox and Sabonis are expected to be the primary table-setters on offense, those around the All-Star duo will have to contribute much more than they did in Portland.

Huerter is a player to keep an eye on as ‘Red Velvet’ makes his second return to Atlanta, the franchise that drafted him out of Maryland in 2018.

Over his past 10 games, Huerter is averaging 6.3 points on 34 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from beyond the arc. While Sacramento’s starting two-guard has fallen back into a similar slump that took place during the early weeks of the season, it wasn’t just Huerter that fell short against the Blazers.

No other member of the Kings finished with more than nine points on a night that saw Fox and Sabonis each score 30-plus. If Sacramento puts forth a similar effort against Atlanta, it will likely be another waste of a performance from the recent All-NBA talents.

Kings vs. Hawks Injury Report

Sacramento

  • Colby Jones – OUT (G-League)
  • Jordan Ford – OUT (G-League)
  • Jalen Slawson – OUT (G-League)

Atlanta

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, December 29th – Sacramento Kings @ Atlanta Hawks – 4:30 PM PST
  • Sunday, December 31st – Sacramento Kings @ Memphis Grizzlies – 5:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, January 2nd – Sacramento Kings vs. Charlotte Hornets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, January 3rd – Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, January 5th – Sacramento Kings vs. Toronto Raptors – 7:00 PM PST

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