Familiar Suns, Kings meet looking to gain ground

NBA
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The Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns conclude their four-game season series before even the midpoint of the campaign when the Pacific Division clubs square off Tuesday night in Phoenix.

The home team has won two of the first three meetings, but the Suns got the upper hand on the season series when they triumphed 112-110 at Sacramento 10 days ago.

Devin Booker continued his assault on the Kings in the win, going for 32 points to complement 10 assists. The fifth-year guard has averaged 28.0 points and 9.3 assists in the three contests against Sacramento this season.

Booker poured in 40 points Sunday against Memphis — his franchise-best sixth straight game with 30 or more — but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 121-114 defeat.

The loss offset a 120-112 win over New York two nights earlier, temporarily stalling any positive move the struggling club had hoped to make in a five-game homestand — all against opponents under .500. After the Kings, the Suns will host Orlando on Friday and Charlotte on Sunday.

First-year Phoenix coach Monty Williams pointed out after the Memphis loss that he’s still trying to figure out an ideal rotation after recently having changed to a starting lineup that features his top two big men, Deandre Ayton and Aron Baynes.

With Kelly Oubre Jr. also going strong, Williams found just five minutes for Dario Saric in his frontcourt mix against the Grizzlies.

Afterward, the coach admitted that was a mistake.

“I gotta figure out a way to get him in the game, because he’s a good player,” Williams told reporters of Saric, who made his only shot against Memphis. “He hasn’t played as well as he’s capable of, but we’re certainly not giving up on Dario.”

Like the Suns, the Kings have not made the most of a favorable stretch in the schedule as they seek to make up ground in the Western playoff chase.

Sacramento is coming off a comfortable, 111-98 home win over Golden State on Monday, which was just its second win in seven home outings among the club’s last eight contests.

After the trip to Phoenix, the Kings return home for three more against Milwaukee, Dallas and Orlando, capping a string of 10 of 12 in Sacramento.

If there was a negative to the win over the Warriors, it was that Richaun Holmes had to leave the game with an injury to his right shoulder. He is questionable for Tuesday’s game.

The Kings were already without fellow frontcourt players Bogdan Bogdanovic (sprained right ankle) and Marvin Bagley III (sprained left foot) in the Golden State contest.

The timely one-sided win was just the Kings’ fourth of the season by 10 or more points. Meanwhile, they are tied for the NBA lead in games decided by three or fewer with 12.

Sacramento has lost seven of those 12, but coach Luke Walton told reporters this week that sometimes a team can profit even in defeats.

“Seriously, we want to win those games,” he said. “But it’s an incredible experience for our group to be in those types of situations either way. The game is never over. Stay with it.”

–Field Level Media

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