SACRAMENTO -- The NBA schedule has a way of wearing a team down. The Sacramento Kings face a struggling New York Knicks team at Golden 1 Center on Sunday. It’s the second night of a back-to-back for the Kings and their fifth game in seven nights.
Sacramento put up a fight, but lost to the Utah Jazz on Saturday evening. The young backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic led the way, combining to score 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting, but it wasn’t enough to stop the playoff chasing Jazz.
New York is in a tailspin of their own. They’ve lost three straight and 11 of their last 12. The loss of All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis has a dark cloud hanging over the franchise as they limp to the finish line.
Knicks by 2.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Skal Labissiere vs. Enes Kanter -- Whether he starts or comes off the Kings’ bench, Labissiere is likely to get a heavy dose of Kanter. Kanter is an aggressive scorer that loves to hit the glass. He’s notched double-doubles in 11 of his previous 13 games and despite playing just 25.9 minutes per game, he’s averaging 10.7 boards per game for New York. Labissiere posted his third double-double of the season on Saturday night and was very active. He’ll need to bring that same effort against Kanter.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 19-44, fourth place in Pacific
Knicks: 24-39, fourth place in Atlantic
Kings: C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.
Knicks: PF/C Kristaps Porzingis (knee) out for the season, SG Ron Baker (ankle) out for the season, Joakim Noah (mutual decision) out for the season.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Dig Deep -- It’s a good thing the Kings have young legs. Not only are they playing the second night of a back-to-back, but this is the fifth game in seven nights for Sacramento. They’ll have another set like this coming up, which includes four road games, three time zones and finishes with a vicious back-to-back on the road against the Warriors and Jazz.
Continue to Build Chemistry -- With 19 games remaining, the Kings are giving their young players an opportunity to play meaningful minutes. Not only do they need to show that they are NBA regulars, but they need to begin building some continuity for next season.
Finding Frank -- Frank Mason missed nearly two months with a heel injury and he’s struggled to get his legs under him since returning on Feb. 22. The rookie point guard scored nine points and picked up four steals in the loss to Utah, which is a something to build on. Sacramento could really use his presence off the bench as the season winds down.
New York leads the season-series 1-0 after knocking off the Kings at Madison Square Garden back in early November. The Kings hold a 153-143 advantage over the Knicks all-time, but New York leads 34-29 during the Sacramento-era.