SACRAMENTO KINGS

Preview: Following blowout loss to Pelicans, Kings seek redemption in Houston

Feb 6, 2023, 9:09 AM | Updated: 11:38 am

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 11: Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings is guarded by Alperen Se...

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Following two disappointing losses against teams that had lost 10 of their past 11 games, the Sacramento Kings will look to get back on the winning track on Monday night when they face the owner of the NBA’s worst record, the Houston Rockets.

Sacramento (29-23) is fresh off of a 32-point defeat by the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night as they fell to 2-3 on this two-week-long, seven-game road trip. The Kings have arrived at their last stop in Houston, where they will face the 13-40 Rockets for a two-game set.

After losing the past two games against struggling teams, Sacramento isn’t necessarily in a ‘must-win’ scenario, but they would be wise to handle business against the worst team in the league to keep pace in a tight Western Conference.

Although the Kings have enjoyed a solid start to the season and currently sit in third place in the West, the margins are thin as they hold a slim three-game lead over the Utah Jazz (10th in the West).

Sacramento has hit skids before this season, and they have responded every time. Monday and Wednesday are important tests, especially if the team wants to return home with a winning record on the lengthy trip.

‘Must-win’? Not quite. ‘Should win’? That’s more like it. If the Kings genuinely are a top team in the conference, they need to start acting like it.

Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets Game Info

When: 5:00 PM PST

Where: Toyota Center – Houston, TX

TV: NBC Sports California

Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Pregame coverage starts at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night

Line: Kings -5.5, O/U: 235.5

Jumpstart The Offense

The Sacramento Kings need to unplug its offense and plug it back in.

For most of this season, the Kings have unleashed a wave of offensive attack at opposing, focusing more on outgunning teams due to struggles on the defensive end. However, when the offense falls flat, Sacramento has little to no chance of picking up wins.

Since January 25th (six games), the Kings have averaged 108.3 points per game –more than 10 points below the team’s league-leading average of 119 points per game. Three-pointers haven’t fallen during the trip (29% over five games), with players like Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray simultaneously going through rough patches.

Adding in the fact that Sacramento has been without the services of De’Aaron Fox (personal reasons) over the past two games, the Kings have looked like a shell of themselves compared to where they were offensively during their six-game winning streak in January.

Breaking out of an offensive funk should be the number one thing to watch on Monday, as Sacramento will go head-to-head with a Rockets team that allows 117.5 points per game (25th in the NBA) and surrenders 37 percent shooting from deep on average (25h in the NBA).

In two meetings this season, Houston allowed the Kings to score 137.0 points during the two-game set at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento needs more of the same this week against the Rockets defense.

Wake Up, Starters

About that offense…

A lot of the recent struggles have come from the starting unit, with Davion Mitchell’s sparse offensive contributions in Fox’s place acting as a non-starter for the team’s flow. With Mitchell failing to set the table, shooters like Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray have had to work harder to get looks–looks that aren’t falling.

Over the past five games, Huerter is averaging 9.0 points on 37 percent shooting from the field and just 20 percent from beyond the arc.

Murray has been even worse during the trip, as the two-time Rookie of the Month award winner has scored 5.6 points per game on 24 percent shooting and 20 percent from deep.

It’s tough for teams to win games with sluggish offense, but the Kings are going through an assortment of issues simultaneously between Fox’s absence, Mitchell’s struggles, and the disappearance of the team’s three-point threats.

Malik Monk has snapped out of his own shooting slump during the trip (16.4 points, 59% FG, 43% 3PT) and has provided Sacramento with production off the bench while the starters continue to work through a cold spell. With Monk, Terence Davis, and Trey Lyles leading the way, the bench hasn’t been the issue over the past two games.

The Kings need their starters to lead the way, and Domantas Sabonis can only do so much. Keep an eye on how Huerter, Murray, and Harrison Barnes fare against Houston’s weak defense.

Recent History

  • Sacramento has won four-straight games against the Rockets, with their last loss coming back on January 16, 2022
  • The Kings have won three of their past game games at Toyota Center dating back to December 2019.

Injury Report

Sacramento

  • De’Aaron Fox is not listed on the injury report for Monday’s game after missing the past two contests due to personal reasons.
  • KZ Okpala & Neemias Queta are on assignment with G-League affiliate Stockton.

Houston

  • Garrison Matthews – QUESTIONABLE (left big toe soreness)
  • Kevin Porter Jr. – OUT (left foot contusion)

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

Monday, February 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5:00 PM PST

Wednesday, February 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5:00 PM PST

Friday, February 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST

Saturday, February 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7:00 PM PST

Tuesday, February 14th – Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns – 6:00 PM PST

Friday, February 17th — Sunday, February 19th — NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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