A Saturday matinee between the Sacramento Kings and host Los Angeles Clippers features a stark contrast in styles, that has led to both teams producing records above .500 thus far into the season.
Sacramento has emerged as one of the surprises of the early NBA campaign. However, the Kings are just emerging from a recent three-game losing skid – their first losing streak since dropping the first four games of the season. They ended the mini drought with a 137-114 home rout of the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
Seven Kings scored in double figures in the victory, including Malik Monk with 20 points off the bench. Fellow reserve Terence Davis added 15 points, and Domantas Sabonis neared a triple-double against his former team with 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Harrison Barnes led Sacramento with 22 points.
“We needed that win, especially the way we’d been playing the past couple games,” Monk said, according to Sacramento Fox 40. “We lost our pace (during the losing streak). We were able to pick it up today.”
During the Kings’ seven-game winning streak that preceded the three-game swoon, they scored at least 120 points in all but one of the victories. Sacramento ranked second in the NBA in scoring, entering play Friday, with an average of 119.9 points per game.
Successfully pushing the tempo could prove central to Sacramento’s prospects on Saturday against a Clippers team that had the league’s lowest point-per-game average through Dec. 1 at 107.2. Los Angeles ranks among the top defensive teams, however, holding opponents to 107.8 points per game.
The Clippers are returning home Saturday for a one-game layover amid a stretch when they play six of seven games on the road. Los Angeles kicked off the road swing Tuesday with a 118-112 victory at Portland, but dropped the second half of a back-to-back Wednesday in a 125-112 loss at Utah.
The Clippers came into Wednesday’s matchup with the Jazz already down All-Stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. George last played Nov. 19 due to a hamstring tendon strain behind his right knee, while Leonard’s return to the lineup has been cut short since Nov. 23 due to an ankle injury.
Norman Powell – who paced the Clippers with 32 points in the win at Portland – sat against Utah due to a groin injury. Powell, George, Leonard and Luke Kennard (calf) are all listed as day-to-day ahead of Saturday’s game.
John Wall came off the bench to lead Los Angeles with 26 points in Wednesday’s loss, while Moussa Diabate and Brandon Boston Jr. added 11 and 10 points respectively. Diabate and Boston, as well as Jason Preston, who scored two points in 3:29 on Wednesday, were call-ups from the Clippers’ G League squad.
The youngsters could continue to provide depth with Los Angeles facing roster uncertainty.
“We have a veteran team and those guys have done a great job in the G League,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Sometimes you’ve got to reward the young guys for playing well, to let them know that we do see what you’re doing, and we recognize that you are playing in the G League but you’re doing some good things.”
–Field Level Media