Kings looking to repeat history in Phoenix
The Sacramento Kings take their high-scoring act back to the site of one of their most impressive efforts this season when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Seven Kings scored in double figures and Sacramento's shooting was brilliant both overall (53.6 percent) and on 3-pointers (45.8 percent) in a 122-105 win in Talking Stick Resort Arena on Dec. 6.
Sacramento benefitted that night from the absence of Suns star Devin Booker, who missed the game with a hamstring injury.
The Kings might catch a similar break Tuesday, as Booker had to leave Sunday's 119-113 home loss to Charlotte with back spasms and was held out of practice Monday.
The visitors could use a break on the second night of a home-road back-to-back. The Kings (20-20) turned in one of their best defensive efforts of the season in a 111-95 home win over the Orlando Magic on Monday that ended a four-game losing streak.
Sacramento did more than enough offensively to run up a big margin, with De'Aaron Fox hitting 9 of 14 shots en route to 20 points and Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic each hitting three of the team's 10 made 3-pointers in the game.
The Kings finally had something to show for a series of impressive efforts that had resulted in an overtime loss to Portland and consecutive four-point defeats at the hands of Denver and Golden State in a stretch that, according to Justin Jackson, did the club more good than the three straight losses would indicate.
"We were playing our hearts out," he insisted to reporters. "We were playing really well. We can definitely come out holding our heads up high."
With or without Booker, the Suns will be looking to avoid franchise history in the finale of a seven-game homestand.
Phoenix (9-32) has lost the first six games of the homestand, and a loss Tuesday the franchise mark for worst homestand at 0-7, set in February 2016.
The Suns' franchise record for home losing streak is 12, set last season.
Sunday's loss came despite a 19-point effort by Deandre Ayton. But the rookie center was impacted by Booker's absence in the second half, harassed into 2-for-7 shooting after a 5-for-5 first half that produced 15 of his points.
The Suns started three rookies in the game, with Mikal Bridges and De'Anthony Melton joining Ayton.
"We're coming in with big roles," Ayton said over the weekend of the rookies. "It's not like back in the day when you had seven or eight vets and the rookie has to do all this extra stuff. We're coming in starting and there's a big role from there and you have a responsibility. Let's try to be great. Let's get some wins."
Melton had 21 points in the earlier loss to the Kings.
The Suns, who earned the right to draft Ayton in June by virtue of finishing the season with the NBA's worst record (21-61) and then winning the draft lottery as the favorite, have six fewer wins fewer than at this point last season, and just one more than the all-time franchise low of eight set in the first half of their first season in 1968-69.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 8, 2019