Game 56 Preview: Kings at Clippers

All eyes will be on DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin tonight as the Sacramento Kings visit the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

Gametime: 7:30 pm PST

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Clippers perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Clipper Blog.

Kings Probable Starters (19-35)

Isaiah Thomas Tyreke Evans Francisco Garcia Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

Marcus Thornton and John Salmons are out yet again due to injury.  Thornton will miss his third straight game due to a bruised calf while Salmons will miss his sixth straight contest with a sore hip.  Keith Smart inserted Francisco Garcia into the starting lineup Thursday in Thornton’s absence.

Clippers Probable Starters (33-22)

Chris Paul Randy Foye Caron Butler Blake Griffin DeAndre Jordan

The Clippers didn’t play one of their best games of the season Thursday night in Sacramento.  But, they managed to come away with victory, earning their seventh win in eight games.  Mo Williams will sit out a ninth straight game with a sprained left big toe.

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.

D.J. Foster and Jovan Buha of Clipper Blog join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Clippers match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

D.J. Foster: Jason Thompson vs. Blake Griffin. Yeah, we’ll all be watching Cousins and Griffin to see if things jump off, but limiting Thompson’s buckets will have a bigger influence on the game. It’s no secret that opposing power forwards light Griffin up on the regular down the stretch of close games.

Jovan Buha: Chris Paul vs. Isaiah Thomas. Last game Thomas reasonably held his own against Paul, taking advantage of Paul’s tendency to play team safety by getting open for corner 3s. CP3 couldn’t make a shot and the Clippers were still victorious — that needs to change this time around.

Jonathan Santiago:  Keith Smart vs. Vinny Del Negro.  Thursday’s game was sluggish until the fourth quarter when Smart decided to start with a line-up featuring Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette, Chuck Hayes, Terrence Williams and Jason Thompson.  His decision to go small got the Kings back into the game.  It’ll be interesting to see what kind of coaching decisions both men make after having just played each other two days earlier.

2. Stat that decides the game…

D.J. Foster: Offensive rebounds. The energy level in the game on Wednesday was atrocious, so keeping an eye on the offensive glass may tell the story of who wants it more.

Jovan Buha: Turnovers. Both teams were at their best Thursday when they were shutting down the other’s primary offensive sets, playing the passing lanes and getting out in transition. Whoever turns it over less should control the game.

Jonathan Santiago:  Fouls by Cousins.  The Kings’ center played just 18 minute and scored only eight points in Thursday’s loss.  When he stays out of foul trouble, the Kings are clearly a much more threatening team.

3. Does the spat between DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin blow over or boil to a head?

D.J. Foster: Blake Griffin isn’t going to stop being an instigator, and DMC isn’t exactly cool-headed. Griffin has played hard on both ends when he has felt the need for revenge (see Hornets, after Jason Smith takedown) so I wouldn’t expect him to shy away from anything. Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans are the real guys to watch, though.

Jovan Buha: Push? I don’t think it’s going to go away, as it is apparent Cousins has a vendetta against Griffin, but I don’t think either would be immature enough to actually fight (but with DMC, who knows).

Jonathan Santiago:  It’s really up to Cousins.  Griffin doesn’t seem to care about these kind of things (or he at least does a good job pretending not to).  If Cousins can ignore the antics and mind games of not only Griffin, but Martin and Evans too, then Thursday night’s spat should blow over.


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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.