Kings’ Speech: Game 17 vs. Toronto Raptors

James Johnson drives aggressively to the rim against Al Horford. (Photo: Steven Chea)

The Sacramento Kings look to end a three-game losing streak tonight when they host the Toronto Raptors.  The Kings won the lone match-up between these two teams last season.

Both the Kings and Raptors have had their fair share of struggles this year.  Entering tonight’s game at 4-12, the Kings possess the worst record in the Western Conference.  Meanwhile at 4-14, the Raptors have lost seven of their last eight games and have just one road victory through 11 tries.

Kings head coach Keith Smart thinks the Raptors’ struggles stem from a crisis of identity.

I think just like us, (they’re) trying to find (their) offensive rhythm.  You’ve got several guards that are trying to figure out are they slashers or are they shooters?  And you have (Andrea) Bargnani trying to do his thing.  I just think it’s one of those (situations where you’re) trying to figure out the right way of what you want to play – am I an offensive team or a defensive team?

One the few bright spots for Dwane Casey’s Raptors this season has been big man Jonas Valanciunas.  Smart believes the Lithuanian rookie will have a long career in this league because of his active nature on the court.

I’ve always believed that if a guy is high-energy, it’s easier to tone him down than to try to get him up to play.  And that guy does a lot of movement around the basket, getting second and third opportunities.  He rolls very well to the basket, can put it in on the floor.

Before arriving in Sacramento, James Johnson spent a season and a half as a member of the Toronto Raptors.  He offered this take on his former team.

I think Bargnani is a big strength for them (as well as) Linas Kleiza, DeMar Derozan.  They’ve got guys who can put the ball in the bucket and they’ve got a good defensive scheme that they buy into.  I think they have a lot of strengths, but at the end of the day, it’s whoever is going to win that night.

Tip-off between the Kings and Raptors is set for 7 pm PT at Sleep Train Arena.  Visit Cowbell Kingdom for additional pre and post-game coverage throughout the day.


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.

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