SACRAMENTO -- While the Sacramento Kings were being handed their second straight loss in Los Angeles Tuesday evening at the Staples Center, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hanging out back in Sacramento. The Kings flew home following the Clippers game where they’ll face the Cavs on the second night of a back-to-back.
Outside of Willie Cauley-Stein’s 17-point, seven-rebound, four-steal performance, there wasn’t a lot to like from the Kings loss to the Clippers. They were doomed in the second quarter when they went flat and were outscored 41-23.
Cleveland is coming off a lost to the Warriors in Oakland on Christmas day and have been relaxing in Sacramento since. Kevin Love dropped in 31 points and 18 rebounds against Golden State, but the Cavs managed to shoot just 31.8 percent from the field in the 99-92 defeat.
Cavs by 9.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Who Slows King James? -- The last time these two teams faced off, Dave Joerger turned to two-way forward JaKarr Sampson to guard LeBron James. As of Tuesday night, Sampson was still playing for the Reno Bighorns, leaving the Kings without a player with the physical size and strength to slow the first ballot Hall of Famer. It could be a long night at Golden 1 Center.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 11-22, fifth place in Pacific
Cavs: 24-10, first place in Central
Kings: PG De’Aaron Fox (slight tear of the right quad) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.
Cavs: PG Isaiah Thomas (hip) out, PG Derrick Rose (ankle) out, SF Iman Shumpert (knee) out.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
No Love Lost -- Love torched the Warriors for 6-of-11 shooting from behind the arc. The Kings don’t have a big that likes to defend the perimeter and they also don’t have one that can keep Love off the glass. It’s not just LeBron James you have to worry about when Cleveland rolls through town.
New Mix -- Joerger has turned to Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield in his starting lineup over the last few games and the results have been mixed. Hield went off for 24 point in his first game, but struggled against the Clippers. Cauley-Stein has put up big numbers, but the second unit has struggled without his presence. The coaching staff is still looking for the right combinations 33 games into the season.
Fresh Blood -- With Cauley-Stein and Hield elevated to the starting group, Joerger has turned to Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson with the reserves and left Skal Labissiere on the bench. The two young wings combined to score 19 points, grab nine rebounds and dish out four assists in 53 total minutes on the floor. It’s an interesting experiment.
The Cavs held on to beat the Kings 101-95 earlier this month to take a 1-0 advantage in the season series. The Cavs hold a slight 59-57 lead in the all-time series and 39-23 advantage during the Sacramento-era.