SACRAMENTO -- The Kings return to their home floor trying to wash the taste of Wednesday’s embarrassing 107-102 loss to an injury riddled Miami Heat team. They face a Clippers team that is struggling with injury woes as well, but they are hoping for the return of All-Star Chris Paul after a four-game absence.
Los Angeles is without All-Star power forward Blake Griffin for a few more weeks after another injury setback. Griffin has missed 10 straight after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-December and the Clippers have struggled to a 4-6 record without him.
Veteran forward Rudy Gay has missed four straight and 10-of-11 games with a right hip flexor strain, but it appears he’s ready to make a return to the court.
“I’m going today, I’m a go,” Gay told CSN California as he left the floor and headed back to the team’s locker room.
Gay, 30, has played in 24 of the Kings’ 35 games this season, posting 18.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in 33.6 minutes a night.
Clippers by 3
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Kings shooting guards vs. J.J. Redick -- Redick is a nice complimentary player against most teams, but he seems to find a way to hurt the Kings every time these two teams play. Ben McLemore has started 14 of the last 15 games for Dave Joerger at the shooting guard position, but he’s scored in double figures just once over that stretch and he was benched during the second half of the Kings loss to Miami. Afflalo has had a nice resurgence over the last two games, but the answer might be veteran Garrett Temple who is the best defender of the lot. If Redick gets loose, this could be a long night for Sacramento.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 15-20, fourth place in Pacific
Clippers: 24-14, second place in Pacific
Kings: SF Rudy Gay (right hip flexor) listed as questionable, but he told CSN California that he intends to play.
Clippers: PG Chris Paul (hamstring) is likely to play, PF Blake Griffin (knee) out, F Brice Johnson (back) out.
The Clippers lead the season series 1-0 after dispatching the Kings 121-115 at Golden 1 Center on Nov. 18. During the Sacramento-era, the Kings hold a 69-64 advantage and they lead the Clippers 113-87 all-time.
“I’m very disappointed, the most disappointed I’ve been this season. This is a game we have to win. After a big game in Denver to get that eight seed and then come in here against a decimated Miami Heat team that’s coming on a back-to-back as well - so that’s no excuse. This is a game we have to get. We’ve just got to get it. We can’t lose games like this. I just hope it doesn’t come back to bite us.” - Garrett Temple following the Kings’ loss to the Heat