SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Kings seek 20th win of season against struggling Hornets

Jan 2, 2024, 9:57 AM | Updated: 1:40 pm

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 22: De'Aaron Fox #5 and Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Ki...

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Following a brief and successful three-game road trip, the Sacramento Kings will return home for a four-game homestand set to tip-off on Tuesday night.

Sacramento (19-12) posted a 2-1 record during its trip that was capped off with an impressive 123-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night–the Kings’ most significant margin of victory thus far in the regular season.

The Kings might have ended its three-game trip on a high note in Memphis, but they were close to returning to Golden 1 Center under different circumstances if not for an incredible comeback win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

Thanks to a closing effort from De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento erased a 23-point deficit en route to a 117-110 win. This was on the heels of the Kings’ most disappointing loss of the season, a double-digit loss to the lowly Portland Trail Blazers.

Sacramento will be in a similar position on Tuesday night when they face the Charlotte Hornets (7-24), a team that holds the fourth-worst record in the NBA and has lost 11 straight games.

Can the Kings pick up its first win of 2024 and cross the 20-win mark?

Sacramento Kings vs. Charlotte Hornets Game Info

When: 7:00 PM PST

Where: Golden 1 Center – Sacramento, CA

TV: NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 5:30 PM on Game Night

Line: Kings -15.5, O/U 232.5

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Hornets coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Tickets: Click here

No Excuses

The loss to Portland was disappointing for the Kings, but it can act as a stern reminder when the ‘Beam Team’ takes the floor on Tuesday.

Sacramento dropped a game to a Blazers team that had lost nine of ten games and held a 7-21 record on the night the two teams met, which holds a similar tune to the Kings’ game against the Hornets.

Charlotte currently holds the longest active losing streak in the NBA with 11 straight losses while only having won four games since November 12th. The Hornets will also be playing the second night of a back-to-back after playing in Denver on Monday and will be without star guard LaMelo Ball (ankle) and forward Gordon Hayward (calf).

The Kings can’t let their guard down again, not with the Western Conference in its current state, as only five games separate the fourth and 11th seeds. Sacramento needs to take care of business against struggling teams like Charlotte, and with the Trail Blazers loss fresh on their minds, it’s fair to expect a more aggressive approach from the Kings on Tuesday.

Will The Lineup Changes Stick? 

After a year-plus of rolling out the same starting lineup, Sacramento head coach Mike Brown finally shook things up on Sunday in Memphis.

On the heels of the loss in Portland and near-loss in Atlanta, Brown placed the struggling Kevin Huerter in the second unit and elevated guard Chris Duarte to the starting five in a move that brings more of a defensive impact to the lineup.

Duarte isn’t a lock-down defender, but he can keep opponents in front of him while bringing an increased sense of physicality to an offense-heavy lineup behind De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Keegan Murray.

Huerter joining the second unit creates an intriguing group that includes Malik Monk, Trey Lyles, and the emerging Davion Mitchell, who has posted back-to-back strong outings after Brown went back to the third-year guard as the backup point guard.

Brown could be looking to get Huerter more volume in the second unit, as Sabonis often remains on the floor while Fox goes to the bench at the midway point of the first and third quarters. With Fox and Murray on the bench, Huerter and Monk are the primary shooters in the offense, while Sabonis can orchestrate the flow with his passing and dribble-hand-off tendencies.

It seemed as if it was a matter of time before Brown made a change to the lineup, and we’ll see if the Duarte-for-Huerter swap sticks once starting lineups are announced on Tuesday.

If the results continue to be positive, it’s likely that Duarte will remain in the starting lineup while Huerter can add to an already strong bench unit that includes a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Monk.

Notes

  • Last season, Charlotte claimed a 125-119 win over Sacramento at Golden 1 Center on December 19, 2022. The Kings haven’t beaten the Hornets on their home floor since November 5, 2021.
  • De’Aaron Fox is shooting 45% from three-point range over the past six games (10.7 attempts per game).
  • The Hornets rank near the bottom of the NBA in several categories, including rebounds (27th), made triples (27th), points scored (27th), and steals (25th).
  • Charlotte ranks 27th in made three-point field goals, meaning that they do their work in the paint. The Hornets are third in the NBA in two-point field goal attempts and 11th in points in the paint.

Kings vs. Hornets Injury Report

Sacramento

  • No players listed

Charlotte

  • Terry Rozier (illness) PROBABLE
  • Mark Williams (Low Back Contusion) DOUBTFUL
    LaMelo Ball (R Ankle) OUT
  • Gordon Hayward (L Calf) OUT
  • Frank Ntilikina (L Tibia) OUT

Upcoming schedule for the Sacramento Kings

  • 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
  • Sunday, January 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 3:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, January 9th – Sacramento Kings @ Detroit Pistons – 4:00 PM PST

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