Kings

Gameday: Things won't get easier for struggling Kings in Boston

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USATI

Gameday: Things won't get easier for struggling Kings in Boston

With the taste of defeat still fresh in their mouths, the Sacramento Kings face the Boston Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday.

Sacramento has lost five straight and are in desperate need of a win. They’ve lost their offensive mojo and look every bit the part of a newly assembled young club.

Despite a mostly new roster and a serious early season injury to Gordon Hayward, the Celtics sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. They are young, athletic and dangerous.

BETTING LINE

Celtics by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Kyrie Irving -- Fox continues to shine despite the struggles of the team. He’s leading the Kings in scoring at 13.4 points per game and coming off an impressive 18-point, five-assist, four-rebound performance in Indy. Irving is posting big numbers since coming over in an offseason deal with the Cavs. Fox likely won’t start the game against the four-time All-Star, but he’ll play plenty of minutes as the game evolves.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 1-6, fifth place in Pacific

Celtics: 5-2, first place in Atlantic

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Celtics: SF Gordon Hayward (ankle) out for season, F Marcus Morris (knee) questionable.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

A TRAIN OFF THE TRACKS -- Sacramento is lost in an early season slide and it doesn’t get any easier Wednesday evening in Boston. The Celtics are atop the Eastern Conference standings, despite the devastating injury to Gordon Hayward on opening night. The Kings need to find their offense quickly or risk falling for the sixth straight game.

CAN THE REAL GEORGE HILL PLEASE STAND UP -- Hill is a veteran coming off his best season in the NBA. So far in the 2017-18 campaign, he’s struggled in his new surroundings, averaging just 9.5 points, 2.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds. The Kings brought him in to show De’Aaron Fox the ropes and help solidify the backcourt. So far, Fox has far outshined his mentor.

ARE THE KINGS FINALLY RESTED? -- The decision has been made to rest veterans in each of the last two games and the available players haven’t responded well on the court. Sacramento’s scored 83 points in back-to-back games and they’ve been outscored by a combined 45 by the Wizards and Pacers. Balancing the development of young players while putting a quality product on the floor was never going to be easy, but avoiding a culture of losing is paramount.  

SERIES HISTORY

These two teams split the season series last year 1-1, with Sacramento coming away with a 108-92 victory at Golden 1 Center in February. Boston holds a 181-118 all-time lead over the Kings and a 36-26 advantage during the Sacramento-era. The Kings have lost nine straight in Boston, spanning back to January of 2007.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings

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USATSI

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suspended for game against Kings

Michael Malone won't be on the sideline when his Nuggets take on his former team on Monday night.

The NBA announced Monday afternoon that Malone has been suspended without pay for the game against the Kings.

The suspension stems from Malone "entering the court, halting play and making contact with a game official" during Denver's game against the Lakers on Sunday. The incident occurred midway through the second quarter.

Malone was hired as head coach of the Kings prior to the 2013-14 season. He was fired just 24 games into the 2014-15 season.

Coverage of the Nuggets and Kings gets underway at 6:30pm on NBC Sports California and streaming on the NBC Sports App.

Gameday: Kings open homestand against shorthanded Nuggets

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AP

Gameday: Kings open homestand against shorthanded Nuggets

SACRAMENTO -- Home cooking. For the first time this season, the Sacramento Kings will play three straight games at Golden 1 Center, beginning Monday evening against the Denver Nuggets. In a scheduling anomaly, the Kings have already played three three-game road trips and 10 of their first 16 games away from home.

Denver is coming off a 127-109 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. They’ll take on a young Kings team on the second night of a back-to-back and they’ll have to do so without both of their starting forwards.

Expect plenty of small ball, three guard sets as the Nuggets try to turn up the pace and run the Kings off the floor.

BETTING LINE

Nuggets by 6

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Nikola Jokic -- Since being relegated to the bench two games ago, Cauley-Stein has become a monster. He’s posted 20 points and 9.5 rebounds over his last two outings and seems to have found himself with the second team. After a slow start to the season, the Joker has found his game. He’s posting 15.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and a team-high 4.5 assists. Jokic is one of the best passing bigs in the NBA and he’s knocking down 41.5 percent of his three-balls.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 4-12, fifth place in Pacific

Nuggets: 9-7, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) out, F Vince Carter (kidney stones) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Nuggets: SF Wilson Chandler (low back) out, PF Paul Millsap (left wrist) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

FINDING THE BOTTOM OF THE NET -- While Cauley-Stein has flourished with the reserves, Skal Labissiere has fallen on hard times with the starters. The second-year big has taken plenty of high quality shots, they just don’t want to settle in. He’s too talented of a player to continue missing shots, but over his first two starts, he’s hit on just 1-of-15 from the field and scored three total points. The Kings could use a breakout performance from their starting power forward.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR OPPORTUNITY -- Frank Mason has played roughly 21 minutes per night since Dave Joerger shook up his lineup last Friday. He’s done a nice job of holding down the reserve point guard minutes while George Hill has shifted to the shooting guard spot. The Kings need their rookie to continue to grow into his role and supply leadership with the second unit.

CONTINUE TO BUILD ON THE DEFENSIVE END -- For stretches over the last two games, the Kings have looked like a defensive juggernaut. They are long, quick and athletic. They need to find a way to hit shots to stay in ball games, but the effort has been there, especially on the defensive end.

SERIES HISTORY

Denver leads the season series 1-0 after an early season win at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets hold a slim lead the all-time series 89-88, but the Kings are up 65-64 during the Sacramento-era.