Raptors coach Dwane Casey unhappy with a call. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Gametime: 4:00 pm PT

Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

Broadcast Information: TV – Comcast SportsNet California, Radio – 1140 The Fan

For Raptors perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network affiliate Raptors Republic.

The book on the Raptors: After starting the season with an abysmal 4-19 record, Toronto has gone 8-1 in their last nine games.  Their turnaround started with a 21-point win over the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 14 that ended a season-long six-game losing streak.

Did you know?  Toronto is a perfect 5-0 at home in their last nine games.  During that stretch at the Air Canada Centre, they’ve beaten opponents by a 12-point margin (98 PPG to 86 oPPG).

Status Updates: Tyreke Evans is out resting a sore left knee.  He hopes to return next week when the Kings begin a five-game home-stand.  Marcus Thornton is day-to-day with a sprained left ankle.

Sacramento Kings Probable Starters (12-20)

PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Francisco Garcia
SF: John Salmons
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins

Toronto Raptors Probable Starters (12-20)

PG: Jose Calderon
SG: DeMar Derozan
SF: Mickael Pietrus
PF: Ed Davis

C: Aaron Gray

Stats and Rankings

Kings

  • Points Per Game: 96.8 (15th out of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.1 (16th out of 30)
  • Opponents Points Per Game: 100.9 (26th out of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 106.6 (28th out of 30)
  • Pace: 94.88 (11th out of 30)

Raptors 

  • Points Per Game: 96.9 (14th out of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 102.9 (12th  out of 30)
  • Opponents Points Per Game: 97.3 (17th out of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 107.9 (22nd out of 30)
  • Pace: 92.86 (24th out of 30)

Three questions to ponder

1.  Can the Kings slow Kyle Lowry?

When these two teams met last month, the Raptors guard was dominant against the Kings’ defense.  They had no answer for the veteran point, who scored 34 points, racked up 11 assists and grabbed five rebounds in defeat. Lowry’s now playing a reserve role for the Raptors, but he’s proven to still be a potent offensive threat.  In Toronto’s last outing, he didn’t score any points, but managed to tally nine assists in 22 minutes of action in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

2.  Will Jason Thompson duplicate the effort from his last outing against the Raptors?

The Kings power forward has been probably the most consistent presence in Keith Smart‘s lineup all season.  Thompson may not have any flash to his game, but he just gets his job done.  Against a Cleveland Cavalier frontline that was missing Anderson Varejao, the 26-year-old power forward posted yet another double-double, scoring a team-high 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Kings’ three-point victory.  He’ll be facing yet another frontline missing a key cog in Jonas Valanciunas.

3.  How will the Kings respond to the Raptors stifling defense?

The Raptors have taken a complete 180 since their disastrous start to the season and they’ve done so with their defense.  In their last nine games, they’re allowing just 99.9 points per 100 possessions while holding their opposition to 89.4 points per game.  They’re also cutting off passing lanes for their opponents, allowing just 18.9 assists per contest.  The Kings can’t let Toronto’s defense frustrate their recent success with ball movement.  Resorting to one-on-one play has got them in trouble in the past, while sharing the basketball has been what’s made them successful since DeMarcus Cousins‘ latest suspension.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.