Kings

Gameday: Battle down low is the matchup to watch as Kings host Hornets

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AP

Gameday: Battle down low is the matchup to watch as Kings host Hornets

SACRAMENTO -- Fresh off a tough loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday evening, the Sacramento Kings return to their home court to start the new year Tuesday. They’ll face an underachieving Charlotte Hornets team that’s still struggling to find their way.

The Kings put up one of their worst performances of the season against Memphis, falling behind by as many as 33 on their home floor. Willie Cauley-Stein put up solid numbers, finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds, but he was one of just three Sacramento players to score in double-figures in the 114-96 loss.

Charlotte is a veteran team that’s fallen on hard times. Coach Steve Clifford’s team shoots the lowest field goal percentage in the league at 43.5 percent, but they get to the free throw line an NBA best 27.8 times per game.

OPENING LINE:
Hornets by 3.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Dwight Howard -- There was a time when Howard was the most feared big man in the game. He isn’t the player he once was, but he still manages to average 15.6 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in his 14th season in the NBA. Cauley-Stein is improving with each month, posting 13.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in December. The 24-year-old big man is heading in the right direction, but he’ll need to work overtime to keep Howard off the glass.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 12-24, fourth place in Pacific

Hornets: 13-23, third place in Southeast

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: PG De’Aaron Fox (thigh tear) is available to play, PG Frank Mason III (right heel contusion) will miss at least one week of action, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) is out and the team has yet to give a timetable for his return.

Hornets: C Cody Zeller (knee) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Battle on the Boards -- Charlotte is one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA, coming in at No. 4 with 46.7 boards per game. Sacramento has struggled on the glass, grabbing just 39.9 rebounds a night, which ranks 29th in the league. They’ll need to keep a body on Howard and rebound as a team or the Hornets could have a field day.

Home Court Advantage -- The Kings are in the middle of a six-game homestand and so far, it’s been a little rocky. After beating the Cavs, Sacramento has dropped two winnable games to the Suns and Grizzlies. They sit at 6-10 at Golden 1 Center this season, despite sellout crowds every night.

Mason out, Fox in -- Frank Mason injured his heel in the Kings loss to Memphis on Sunday and left on crutches. He’'ll miss at least one week. De’Aaron Fox has practiced, and was cleared to play by the Kings.

SERIES HISTORY:
This is the first of two matchups between these two teams this season after a 1-1 split of the series last year. The Hornets hold a 28-26 advantage over the Kings all-time.  

QUOTE:
“We got our butt kicked. It’s not fun losing. We’ve got to figure it out.” -George Hill after the Kings’ loss to the Grizzlies

Kings vs. Pistons live stream: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

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NBC Sports California

Kings vs. Pistons live stream: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

Coming off a loss in Charlotte on Thursday, the Kings look to earn their first win on their current season-long six-game road trip when they take on the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday.

That defeat ended Sacramento's three-game winning streak, and despite a record of 23-22, the Kings are now once again outside of the playoff picture in the West. They beat the Pistons 112-102 in Sacramento on Jan. 9 for the first of those three consecutive wins.

Blake Griffin didn't play in that game for the Pistons (20-24), but he will suit up on Saturday. Detroit, however, will be without the services of center Andre Drummond, who sustained a concussion in the Pistons' win on Friday night.

Here's how you can watch Kings-Pistons, as well as NBC Sports California's pregame and postgame coverage, live on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app. 

When: 4 p.m. PT on Saturday, Jan. 19 (pregame show starts at 3:30 p.m.)
Live Stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app

Desktop users can stream the game here.

Kings vs. Pistons watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

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AP

Kings vs. Pistons watch guide: Lineups, injury report, player usage

Looking to bounce back from a disappointing showing in Charlotte on Thursday evening, the Sacramento Kings visit Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons in the second game of their road trip. 

The Kings led big early against the Hornets, but fell apart in the second quarter.

Buddy Hield scored 24 points, but for one of the few times this season, the Kings weren't very competitive. Seven players scored in double-figures for Charlotte, including a team-high 23 for Kemba Walker as the Hornets came away with a 114-95 victory.

After dropping four straight, including a loss to the Kings at Golden 1 Center on Jan. 10, the Pistons have won three out of their last four. In their victory over the Miami Heat on Friday evening, Blake Griffin poured in 32 points and Luke Kennard added 22 off Detroit's bench.

The last time these two teams faced off, Griffin stayed behind in Los Angeles to rest. This time, All-Star Andre Drummond will sit out after sustaining a concussion in the team's win over the Miami Heat on Friday night.

Kings Pregame Live on NBC Sports California begins at 3:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 4. All coverage can be seen on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

Sacramento continues their six-game road trip, traveling to Brooklyn to face the Nets on Monday for the first night of a back-to-back. They'll fly to Toronto following the game where they'll face the first place Raptors on Tuesday.

Line

Kings +2.5

Projected Lineups

Kings

PG De’Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Iman Shumpert
PF Nemanja Bjelica
C Willie Cauley-Stein

Pistons

PG Reggie Jackson
SG Bruce Brown
SF Reggie Bullocks
PF Blake Griffin
C Zaza Pachulia

Injury Report

Kings 

No injuries to report.

Pistons

PF Andre Drummond (concussion) out, PG Ish Smith (abductor) questionable, C Henry Ellenson (ankle) out, PF Jon Leuer (illness) probable.

Rotation Outlook

Kings: Dave Joerger's club is coming off a poor performance in Charlotte. The Hornets found a way to muck up the Kings' offense and Sacramento responded poorly on the defensive end.

Sacramento continues to sport a roster full of healthy bodies. Joerger is focused on a 10-man rotation, using a second unit of Yogi Ferrell, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley.

[RELATED: NBA trade deadline 2019: Six early targets for playoff-hungry Kings]

After a strong start to the season, veteran Nemanja Bjelica has struggled to get opportunities of late. The Serbian stretch four is a averaging 7.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and three assists in 24.6 minutes per game in the month of January. He's shooting just 39.1 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range over the stretch.

Pistons: Without Drummond, coach Dwane Casey will likely turn to veterans Zaza Pachulia and Jon Leuer to fill the void. Neither is the physical presence of Drummond, but they can hurt the Kings in different ways. 

Sacramento should expect a heavy dose of Griffin. The veteran is coming off back-to-back 30 point games and is averaging 31.3 points over his last four games.

The Pistons score 106.7 points per game, but they yield 109.2. They are 21st in pace and 29th in 3-point percentage.