Kings

Kings take on surging Bucks

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Kings take on surging Bucks

Programming note: Kings-Bucks coverage kicks off at 5 p.m. today on Comcast SportsNet California (territorial restrictions apply)

(AP) -- With another strong offensive performance from Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Milwaukee Bucks should have a good chance to match their longest winning streak of the season Wednesday night.

The backcourt duo can help the Bucks to a third consecutive victory as they try to avoid a third straight loss to the visiting Sacramento Kings.

Jennings scored 26 points and Ellis added 24 as the pair went 16 of 32 from the field Sunday to help Milwaukee (10-9) to a 97-88 win at Brooklyn. The guards outscored the Nets' star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson by two striaght games. 26 points and combined to record eight steals.

"It was just another game," said Ellis, who shot a season-high 61.5 percent (8 of 13). "It just happened me (and Jennings) came out wanting to play hard."

While Ellis (18.7 points per game) and Jennings (17.2) are shooting a combined 40.2 percent, they remain the two most explosive offensive options for a Bucks team that has only one other player averaging double-figure points. Although their scoring has been comparable in wins and losses, the two are shooting 42.8 percent during the Bucks' victories and 37.7 percent in their defeats.

"It's the nature of our team; when Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are playing well, we usually win," coach Scott Skiles said.

The Bucks are playing well enough for a shot at matching their three-game winning streak from Nov. 12-17. Milwaukee also is trying for a season-high third consecutive victory at the Bradley Center, where it has held its last two opponents to an average of 90.5 points on 42.9 percent shooting - 9 of 32 (28.1 percent) from 3-point range.

Jennings was held to six points in a 97-90 loss to the Kings in their last visit to Milwaukee on March 23, 2011, and his 31 weren't enough in a 103-100 defeat at Sacramento last season.

The Kings (7-13) had their season-high three-game winning streak end with a 119-96 loss at Dallas on Monday. That defeat came two nights after Sacramento posted its first road win, 99-80 at Portland.

Playing a third consecutive game without injured guard Tyreke Evans, the Kings trailed 65-43 at halftime and allowed the Mavericks to shoot 55.2 percent overall. DeMarcus Cousins and Francisco Garcia each scored 25 points for Sacramento, which had yielded 87.3 points per game on 39.0 percent shooting during the three straight victories.

Garcia has received sporadic playing time this season but has totaled 37 points over the last two games while starting in place of Evans, who remains day to day with a sore knee that has sidelined him for five of the last six contests. Garcia went 7 of 12 from 3-point range against the Mavericks.

"You find someone that works hard enough to try and steal minutes, and obviously he has done that," coach Keith Smart said. "He's shooting the ball well right now."

Sacramento guard Marcus Thornton has totaled 24 points in his last four games while shooting 7 of 29 (24.1 percent), but he's scored 27 in each of the last two meetings with Milwaukee.

Gameday: Bring on Lonzo Ball vs De'Aaron Fox in the NBA

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Gameday: Bring on Lonzo Ball vs De'Aaron Fox in the NBA

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings were treated rudely by the Denver Nuggets to open their three-game homestand on Monday. They’ll get another shot to pick up a win Wednesday when the upstart Los Angeles Lakers swing into Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento has struggled to find consistency this season on the road, but they’ve been able to ride their home crowd to impressive wins over Oklahoma City, Philadelphia and Portland. If they can knock off the Lakers, they improve to .500 at home on the season. 

The Lakers are coming off a come-from-behind win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday and have to play Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back. They are a young and exciting team, that present plenty of matchup issues for the Kings.

BETTING LINE 

Lakers by 1

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball -- Let the games begin! The drama surrounding these two dates back to college. Fox ran over Ball at the NCAA level, outscoring the former UCLA Bruin in both games last season, including a 39-point outburst during a tournament game. Ball missed the summer league matchup between the two, causing a bit of a stir on social media. Wednesday night is nothing more that a pair of 19-year-olds playing hoops against one another while hundreds of thousands of people watch intently. No pressure, kids.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 4-13, fifth place in Pacific

Lakers: 8-10, second place in Pacific

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Lakers: PF Larry Nance Jr. (hand) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

BRIGHT LIGHTS -- The world is watching. Sacramento doesn’t draw the attention of the national media all that often, but plenty of eyes will be on the Kings/Lakers matchup on Wednesday. Will the Kings bring the defensive intensity that helped them knock off the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday or will they fade like they did against Denver last time out?   

REBOUND -- The Kings are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA and they’ll face a team that knows how to hit the glass. Dave Joerger needs his guards to get involved if they hope to avoid another lopsided rebounding deficit. 

CONTAIN KUZMA -- Ball gets all the pub, but it’s the late first rounder out of Utah that is turning heads. Fresh off a 22-point performance Tuesday against the Bulls, Kyle Kuzma is posting nearly 17 points per game while starting at power forward for the Lakers. He’s a player that plenty of teams are now regretting passing on in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

SERIES HISTORY 

These two teams split the season series 2-2 last season, with each team winning one at home and one on the road. Los Angeles owns a huge 270-153 lead in the all-time series and a 92-44 advantage during the Sacramento-era 88-47. 

QUOTE

“It’s fun. Sometimes there’s too many haters out there. It is what it is. Smile and enjoy it. I think it will be a great opportunity for those two guys to begin their careers.” Dave Joerger on the Fox/Ball matchup

Basketball junkie Vince Carter ecstatic to return from bout with kidney stones

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USATSI

Basketball junkie Vince Carter ecstatic to return from bout with kidney stones

SACRAMENTO -- In today's world, 40 is the new 30...until kidney stones hit. Vince Carter keeps himself in incredible shape. In his 20th season, he is a beacon of health and fitness. A marvel of an athlete that has retained plenty of the athleticism that earned him the moniker, “Half man, half amazing.”

Carter hasn’t felt amazing over the last few weeks. A nasty bout with kidney stones left the 40-year-old forward on the outside looking in. Seven games later, he’s ready to take the floor for the first time in over two weeks Wednesday evening against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I was just happy to sit on the court the other day, just to dress out in a suit and just to be around the guys again,” Carter told NBC Sports California following shootaround. “That’s what I do. I play the game of basketball. I love it. I love being around it. I can’t wait.”

Carter has missed the Kings’ seven games with calcium oxalate kidney stones. He needs to drink more water, but the biggest culprit in his diet has been a love of greens. 

“It comes from a lot of spinach and kale,” Carter said. “It forms from there.”

While sitting at home watching the team play from his couch, Carter said he was texting coaches and anyone else who would pick up during games. Being away from his teammates is the last thing a basketball lifer wants to do. 

This isn’t the first battle with stones for Carter, but it was by far the worst episode he’s had. It’s also not the first go around for the Kings medical staff, who helped former King Marcus Thornton work through a similar situation a few years back. 

Where Carter fits in on a young roster is still a question, but he’ll likely see court time against the Lakers Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center.