SACRAMENTO -- After a shocking win on Wednesday evening over the Boston Celtics, the Sacramento Kings draw another tough Eastern Conference opponent in the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
Which Kings team shows up? That is the question of the season. Sacramento has beat the best the league has to offer, including wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors (twice). But they have also dropped winnable games to teams at the bottom of the standings.
The Kings will likely be without point guard Ty Lawson who strained an adductor muscle against the Celtics.
The Hawks looked like they were ready to break up their roster and start over midway through the season. But over their last 22 games, Atlanta is 16-6 and right in the thick of it in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Hawks by 2
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 21-32, third place in the Pacific
Hawks: 31-22, second place in the Southeast
MATCHUP TO WATCH
DeMarcus Cousins vs. Dwight Howard -- Cousins has had three days rest to heal up and get ready to face Howard. Fresh off suspension, Cousins should be motivated to come out and make an immediate impact for Sacramento. Howard might not be the player he once was, but the 31-year-old big man is still as strong as they come. He will try to bully Cousins in the post and hit the glass. If the Kings All-Star can get Howard in early foul trouble, the Hawks become decidedly easier to handle.
Kings: PG Ty Lawson (strained adductor) out, G/F Garrett Temple (torn left hamstring) out until after All-Star break, F Omri Casspi (right calf strain) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.
Hawks: G/F Thabo Sefolosha (groin) out, C Tiago Splitter (hamstring) out.
The Hawks took game one of the season series during the first week of the season, knocking off the Kings at Philips Arena by a final of 106-95. Atlanta holds a 158-153 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 42-18 lead during the Sacramento-era.
“We are just playing hard. Everybody is getting out there and getting the 50-50 balls on the defensive end; offensive end, we’re getting the offensive rebounds. Like I said, we’re just playing hard. When we do that, it gets more energy, the ball gets energy and we move from hand to hand and we just played well.” -Ty Lawson following the Kings’ win over the Celtics