SACRAMENTO -- After taking down the New York Knicks on Sunday, the Sacramento Kings return to Golden 1 Center Wednesday evening looking to make it two in a row. They’ll face a tall task in Anthony Davis and the red-hot New Orleans Pelicans.
Against the Knicks, Skal Labissiere was the latest of the young Kings to come up big in crunch time. The 21-year-old power forward drilled a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining to give the Kings the lead and they held on for the win.
New Orleans recovered from the devastating injury to DeMarcus Cousins and they’re on a roll. The Pelicans have strung together a nine-game win streak and they currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference playoff race.
Pelicans by 5.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De’Aaron Fox vs. Rajon Rondo -- There’s a new and difficult challenge awaiting Fox every night as he traverses through his rookie season in the NBA. While Rondo no longer possesses all of the physical tools he had as a young star in the league, there are few players that understand the game like the four-time All-Star point guard. Fox has an advantage in speed and quickness, but Rondo will pick him apart if he’s not careful.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 20-44, fourth place in Pacific
Pelicans: 37-26, second place in Southwest
Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (sore right knee) probable, C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.
Pelicans: C DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) out for season, Alexis Ajinca (knee) out, Solomon Hill (hamstring) out, Frank Jackson (right foot) out.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Veteran Opportunity -- With Cauley-Stein out and Labissiere banged up, Dave Joerger might need some help from veteran bigs Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos. Randolph sat against the Knicks as a healthy scratch. Koufos has filled in for Cauley-Stein the last two games. Even if Labissiere can go, one or both of these guys are going to need to play big minutes.
Hit the Easy Ones -- Justin Jackson is getting a long look at the small forward position and plenty of open jumpers from the corner. Since the All-Star break, Jackson is shooting just 36.6 percent from the field and 20 percent from behind the arc.
Slow the Brow -- There is no way to stop AD, but the Kings need to keep him from going off. Koufos has played well against the five-time All-Star and Randolph has beat him up in the post. The Kings need to make him work hard on both ends of the court.
The Kings hold a 2-1 advantage on the season after beating the Pelicans twice at Smoothie Kings Center. New Orleans holds a 42-40 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.