Game 54 Preview: Kings vs. Suns

The Sacramento Kings welcome the Phoenix Suns to Power Balance Pavilion.  Tonight’s game is the final meeting between the two Pacific Division teams this season.

Gametime: 7:00 pm PST

Broadcast Information: Click here.

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

Kings Probable Starters (19-34)

Isaiah Thomas Marcus Thornton* Tyreke Evans Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

According to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee,  Marcus Thornton will not play.  He left last night’s game after bruising his left calf in the first quarter.  John Salmons’ availability remains a question as he has missed the last four games with an injured hip.

Suns Probable Starters (26-26)

Steve Nash Shannon Brown Jared Dudley Channing Frye Marcin Gortat

The Suns will play without Grant Hill, who is recovering surgery on his right knee.  The veteran small forward is hoping to return before the end of the season.  In their last three games, the Suns are 1-2 – losing games to the Clippers and Spurs and winning big Sunday against the New Orleans Hornets.

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 Jared Dubin of Hardwood Paroxysm join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Suns match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Michael Schwartz: Marcin Gortat vs. DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is the one King most capable of taking over the game and leading an upset bid, but if the Nash-Gortat pick-and-roll carves Sacramento up it won’t happen.

Jared Dubin: Isaiah Thomas vs. Steve Nash. Find me a person who ISN’T excited for this match-up. It’s awesome. Nash, though significantly taller than Thomas, embodies the same sort of spirit of the guy who looks like an underdog out there on the court yet plays much bigger and better than his appearance belies.

Jonathan Santiago:  DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marcin Gortat.  Cousins has failed to record a double-double in the Kings’ previous two games.  I think he’ll be hungry to accomplish the feat tonight against Gortat.

2. Stat that decides the game…

Michael Schwartz: The Suns own an astounding 21-2 record when holding their opponent under 96 points but they are just 5-24 when allowing more. My money says that will hold true tonight as well.

Jared Dubin: Field goal percentage. The Kings have combined to shoot 65-176 (36.9%) in the two games they have played against the Suns, who have allowed teams to shoot 45.2% on the year. If the Kings had made just an average amount of shots against Phoenix in either of the previous two contests, they would have been within a possession or two at the end of the game rather than down by double digits.

Jonathan Santiago:  Tyreke Evans’ jump shot attempts.  Evans has struggled this year against the Suns, who’ve collapsed the paint and dared him to beat them from the perimeter.  Tonight will be a true test of Evans’ jumper, which he worked to tweak last month with shooting coach Keith Veney.

3. Fact or Fiction: Jimmer will match or surpass last night’s 19-point performance against the Suns.

Michael Schwartz: Fiction. Jimmer has only twice reached that plateau before last night as an NBA player. I’ll take the odds and say that doesn’t happen again.

Jared Dubin: Fiction. The three times this season Jimmer has scored 19 or more, he’s needed 13, 13 and 15 shots to get there, and I just don’t know that he’ll get that many looks. The first two instances also came in blowout losses where he played 30-plus minutes. I know Buckets Thornton may be out, but penciling Jimmer in for 25-plus minutes and 12-plus shots, which he’ll likely need to reach those 19 points again, is going a little too far for me. I do think he has a nice game tonight though. I’ll say he gets to 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting and four assists, provided Thornton doesn’t suit up.

Jonathan Santiago:  Fiction, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he proved me wrong.  Smart relied on Jimmer to fill the void left by Thornton as the team’s best shooter yesterday.  If Evans is tentative to test his jumper, Jimmer might get the extra shots he needs to light-up Phoenix’s defense.


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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.