Game 37 Preview: Kings at Suns

A fourth quarter comeback led by the Sacramento Kings’ bench fell short in Los Angeles Friday.  After a day off, the Kings are in Arizona set to play the Phoenix Suns in the first game of another back-to-back.

Gametime: 5:00 pm PST

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Suns perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Valley of the Suns.

Kings Probable Starters (12-24)

Tyreke Evans Marcus Thornton John Salmons Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

As is the case with most young teams, the Kings have struggled on the road and bring a 4-18 record to Phoenix.  Tonight’s game is the third game in four nights for the Kings and the first game of another back-to-back set.  The Kings are 7-15 in consecutive-game sets this year.

Suns Probable Starters (16-20)

Steve Nash Jared Dudley Grant Hill Channing Frye Marcin Gortat

The Suns did a marvelous job defensively in their last meeting with the Kings, particularly on Tyreke Evans.  They collapsed the paint and dared Evans to beat them with his jumper.  Evans played one of his worst games this season, scoring just four points on one-of-nine shooting in the 98-84 loss 10 games ago.

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns and Wil Cantrell of SB Nation’s Bright Side Of The Sun join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Suns match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Michael Schwartz: Marcin Gortat vs. DeMarcus Cousins. The Suns have yet to find an answer for the Kentucky product, who pounded them for 26-9 this season and 28-8-6 and 17-7-8 in a pair of wins over Phoenix last season. Gortat must hold his own for the Suns to win.

Wil Cantrell:  Grant Hill vs. Tyreke Evans.  Last time out, Hill shut down Evans, holding him to 4 points on 1-9 shooting. Hill is the Suns’ best defender, matching up with the best offensive guard or wing on the opposing team. The Suns can most likely allow Cousins and Thornton to get theirs, but having Evans also drop 20-plus points would be too much for the Suns to handle and come out with a W tonight.

Jonathan Santiago:  Jason Thompson vs. Channing Frye.  Thompson has had his struggles defending perimeter-oriented power forwards.  In their last meeting, Frye made three-of-five three-point attempts en route to 17 points.

2. Stat that decides the game…

Michael Schwartz: Rebounding. The Suns just outboarded two of the better rebounding teams in the league to win their first two games after the break. If they do so tonight, they will extend that streak to three.

Wil Cantrell:  The Suns have won their last two games ugly, winning with rebounding and defense. Tonight should be no different. The Kings out-rebounded the Suns by only four last time out, and Phoenix still won in decisively while shooting 50 percent from the field and holding the Kings to 35 percent. Field goal percentage should be the deciding factor again tonight.

Jonathan Santiago:  Tyreke Evans’ points.  The Kings need Evans to break out of  his three-game offensive funk.  The Suns forced him to beat them outside, which he failed to do because of an inconsistent jump shot.  If Keith Smart can draw up some plays that allow Evans to cut freely inside, that might help counter and combat the Suns’ defense.

3. Trend that’s more likely to last: The Suns holding opponents below 100 points or the Kings scoring above 100 points?  (The Suns have held opponents to under 100 in four of their last five games.  Meanwhile, the Kings have reached or scored above the century mark in six of their last seven games.)

Michael Schwartz: In the Suns’ last five victories they have held their opponents under 100 but they have allowed teams to surpass the century mark in their last five defeats. I think that streak will continue in another victory.

Wil Cantrell:  The Suns have their backs against the wall. They are not a very good team overall, however, they can play with anyone in the league if they are rebounding and defending. I’ll be an optimist and predict the Suns hold the Kings under 100.

Jonathan Santiago:  The Kings have played much faster and more decisively with Isaiah Thomas at point guard.  They’re also now conditioned to run the uptempo pace Keith Smart wants them to play.  And the bench is also shaping into form, with Francisco Garcia, John Salmons and Jimmer Fredette leading the way.  With that said, I think the Kings pass the century mark tonight.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.