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Gameday: Do the Kings have any chance of slowing down Harden?

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usati

Gameday: Do the Kings have any chance of slowing down Harden?

The Sacramento Kings travel to Houston as heavy underdogs Wednesday evening, trying to sweep a Texas two-step. They’ll face a red hot Rockets team that’s won nine straight and sits just a half game out of first place in the Western Conference.

After a 114-109 win over the Mavericks on Tuesday, the Kings finish their pre All-Star break schedule against Houston. Zach Randolph posted 22 points and seven rebounds against Dallas and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 19 points as the Kings picked up their 18th win of the season.

The Rockets played on Tuesday evening as well. They ran over the Timberwolves for a 126-108 road win, behind a 34-point, 13-assists night from MVP candidate, James Harden.  

BETTING LINE

Rockets by 14

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Chris Paul -- Known as one of the best leaders in the NBA, there is plenty Fox can learn from Paul. The nine-time NBA All-Star has fit seamlessly into the Rockets high octane offense. Fox is getting on-the-job training each and every night as he wades his way through his rookie NBA season.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 18-38, fourth in the Pacific

Rockets: 43-13 first in the Southwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG/SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) out, SF Bruno Caboclo (personal) status unknown at this time, PF Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain) out, PG Frank Mason (plantar fascia tear right heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Rockets: SF Trevor Ariza (hamstring) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Who Guards Harden? - The Rockets are an offensive juggernaut and Harden is the ring leader. He’ll hit you with a 3-ball, take you off the dribble and he lives at the free throw line. Bogdanovic will like get the early call, but expect to see plenty of Garrett Temple as the Kings try to stay in the game early.

Score the Rock - Houston is a tough matchup for every team in the league, but they become even more difficult when you don’t make them take the ball out of the basket. They’ll kill you in transition, especially from the 3-point line. Score and get back is the name of the game.

Take a Break Tomorrow -- All-Star week starts on Thursday. Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox will all play in the Rising Stars game, but the rest of the team will have a week away from the action to decompress and prepare for the final two months of the season. The team needs to stay focused for another 48 minutes of hoops.

SERIES HISTORY

The Rockets hold a 1-0 advantage in the season series and have won six straight over the Kings. Houston hold a 124-88 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 83-42 lead during the Sacramento-era.

What they're saying: Happy Mother's Day 2018

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USATSI

What they're saying: Happy Mother's Day 2018

Check out how Bay Area athletes honored their mom's and the mother's of their children today!

Happy Mother’s Day!

A post shared by Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) on

Happy Mother’s Day to my 👑❤️

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Building Raiders roster a 'team effort' for Gruden, McKenzie

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AP

Building Raiders roster a 'team effort' for Gruden, McKenzie

ORLANDO, Fla. – Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is a popular guy, widely respected among players and in NFL circles. The same can be said for his coordinators and many position coaches.

General manager Reggie McKenzie understands that. He used those assets to help recruit free agents to Oakland.

He also remains in close communication with those designing new Raiders schemes. Jon Gruden’s in charge of the offense, while coordinator Paul Guenther will install a new defense.

McKenzie is focused on getting guys they want, guys who will fit well within new schemes.

“One thing about Gruden is that I know exactly what he wants, which is great for me,” McKenzie said Monday in a meeting with Raiders beat writers at the NFL owners meetings. “I know exactly what is needed for his (offensive) system. It’s the same with (defensive coordinator Paul Guenther). I know exactly what kind of players they want at each position. That makes my job a lot easier, instead of trying to figure out what works best."

Raiders owner Mark Davis told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday that McKenzie plays a different role with Gruden in the mix, and that the head coach’s vision for the team is most important.

“That vision, and that direction is going to be helpful to Reggie more so than not,” Davis said. “I think they’ll work together very well.”

McKenzie agrees. He praised the level of communication with Gruden and his assistants and believes they executed an aggressive free-agency plan well working together.

“The communication is constant, and I’m not just talking about Coach Gruden,” McKenzie said. “I’m talking about the entire staff. It’s well-received.”

The Raiders signed 20 guys in free agency, with 16 new faces and four returners thus far, at least after Reggie Nelson’s deal becomes official in the coming days. McKenzie used the coaching staff to help close deals, and get guys they coveted.

“It’s a team effort, I’m telling you,” McKenzie said. “The good part about it, is that players want to come. Players want to be coached by our guys. When we can get coaches heavily involved in communicating with those guys and when we get those guys in the building, our coaches did a great job recruiting those (free-agent signings).”