Sun, Dec 29 Kings-Spurs Preview
AT&T Center - San Antonio, Texas
By ELI KABERON, Associated Press
The Sacramento Kings just stunned one of last season's NBA finalists. On Sunday night, they will look to defeat the other.
The Kings hit the road to take on the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs, just two nights after knocking off the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat.
To beat San Antonio, the Kings (9-19) may again need a monster performance from DeMarcus Cousins. The center had 27 points and 17 rebounds in a 108-103 overtime victory over Miami on Friday, helping the team rally from a 17-point deficit and snap the Heat's six-game win streak.
"This is a new team, and for us to come out and perform against one of the best teams in the league, it's a pretty good feeling," said Cousins, averaging 25.0 points and 12.3 rebounds in the last five games.
After halting a 10-game losing streak to Miami, Sacramento seeks just its second win in 20 matchups with San Antonio (23-7). This is the first meeting after the Spurs won all four in 2012-13, holding Cousins to 13.3 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting.
None of San Antonio's losses this season have come to a team with a losing record.
"Even teams under .500, they're still good teams," point guard Tony Parker said. "You still have to go out there and play well and do the stuff you have to do to win games. To win an NBA game is hard, especially when you're the Spurs or the Heat. You're always gonna have the best play of that team, they're gonna play their best games."
Cousins and the Kings will be in for a tough task against a strong Spurs defense. San Antonio is allowing a West-low 96.4 points per game and is among the league leaders in opponents' field-goal shooting (44.1 percent) and points in the paint (39.5 per game).
Beating the Heat, however, should give Sacramento confidence. The victory was just the third in eight games since Rudy Gay joined the team in a trade with Toronto, and he scored 26 against Miami to match his high with the Kings.
"We can't get too high, this is one game," Gay said. "This is not going to make or break the season, but we can use this win to get us on the right path. When we play like this, we can beat anybody."
Sacramento has lost 11 of 12 in San Antonio, but the Spurs have been vulnerable at home lately with four losses in the last seven.
They bounced back from a home loss to Houston with a 116-107 victory at Dallas on Thursday as Danny Green scored 22 points, going 7 of 7 from the field with five 3-pointers.
After starting for most of the season, Green has come off the bench in the last three games and averaged 14.0 points - six above his season average - while shooting 13 for 19.
He credited coach Gregg Popovich with the idea of moving him to the bench in order to pick up his play.
"That's part of what Pop is trying to experiment with, to see how it goes," Green said. "See who works with what."
Green now looks to take advantage of a Kings defense that is one of the NBA's worst. Five straight opponents have scored more than 100 points against them, with the team allowing 112.4 points on 52.0 percent shooting.
Parker has had at least 23 points in three of four games since missing a pair with a bruised shin. Fellow point guard Isaiah Thomas of the Kings has scored more than 20 in three straight.