Preview: Sacramento Kings hobble into matchup against surging Magic

Mar 22, 2024, 6:15 PM

Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings looks to drive to the basket on Trevelin Queen #12 of the Orl...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 03: Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings looks to drive to the basket on Trevelin Queen #12 of the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Golden 1 Center on January 03, 2024 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings look to bounce back from one of their most surprising losses of the season when they visit the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

Orlando (42-28) enters on a five-game winning streak and has won 18 of its last 23 to move into fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 12 games to play.

The Magic continue their season-long, eight-game homestand against a Sacramento team that lost 109-102 on Thursday to the host Washington Wizards, who own the league’s worst record at 12-58.

Kyle Kuzma scored 31 points to pace the Wizards, while De’Aaron Fox had 25 points and Malik Monk added 20 to lead Sacramento (40-29). The loss dropped the Kings to eighth place in the tight Western Conference playoff race.

“Tough loss, especially where we are right now in our race for that playoff spot,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “But you got to give the Wizards credit, their coaching staff a lot of credit. They basically took it to us. Kuzma was a handful. We did not have answers for him tonight. We tried to double team him at times and he still found a way to hit big shots.”

Fox is averaging 25.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.3 steals in his last 10 games for Sacramento, which likely will be without guard Kevin Huerter for the rest of the season.

Huerter suffered a dislocated left shoulder and labral tear in Monday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies. He was averaging 10.2 points in 64 games.

Brown said that guards Keon Ellis and Chris Duarte likely will see increased playing time during Huerter’s absence. The pair combined for five points on 2-of-11 shooting in the loss to Washington.

“We talk to the guys all year in terms of, ‘Hey, be ready because anything could happen at any time,'” Brown said. “And whether you get two minutes, 20 minutes or 20 seconds, you have to make the most of it. We’re pretty diligent in terms of trying to get that point across whether guys are in or out.”

Sacramento is seeking a season sweep of Orlando after winning 138-135 in double overtime on Jan. 3. Magic forward Paolo Banchero scored a career-high 43 points in the loss.

Banchero recorded his second career triple-double on Thursday, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a 121-106 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.

Orlando trailed by 12 in the first quarter before taking control late in the contest. Jalen Suggs scored 22 points in the victory, while Franz Wagner added 18.

“I think it was more staying poised than (it was) adjustments,” Banchero said. “I think we were getting a lot of clean looks to start the game. They just didn’t drop. We were just coming to the huddle, telling each other don’t panic, don’t get worried. We will get what we want as long as we defend. That was the focus — making sure we were defending and getting stops.”

Banchero finished strong against New Orleans after missing his first 10 shots.

“Teams are loading up on him, defending him different ways. He’s making the right plays, the right pass, not forcing the game,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He reads what the defense is doing, he adjusts as the game is going on and then finds his time to attack. That’s what an All-Star does.”

Upcoming schedule for the Sacramento Kings

  • Monday, March 25th – Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers – 7 p.m. PST
  • Tuesday, March 26th – Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7 p.m. PST
  • Friday, March 29th – Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks – 7 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, March 31st – Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 6 p.m. PST

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–Field Level Media


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