Kings

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

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AP

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

NEW ORLEANS -- The Sacramento Kings continue their late season five-game road with a stop at the Smoothie King Center Thursday night. They'll face a struggling New Orleans Pelicans team that's focused on surviving a rough season in the Big Easy.

De'Aaron Fox came through big in the Kings' win over the Mavericks Tuesday evening in Dallas. The second-year point guard torched the Mavs for 10 of his team-high 23 points in the final five minutes of the game to lead Sacramento to a 125-121 victory. The win pushed the Kings back to the .500 mark at 37-37 on the season.

[RELATED: How to watch Kings-Pelicans online and on MyTeams app]

New Orleans is spiraling the drain in the home stretch. They've dropped three straight and nine of their last 10 games and currently sit at 31-45 on the season. The midseason trade request from star big man Anthony Davis has put this franchise on a dark path.

Kings Pregame Live on NBC Sports California begins at 4:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 5:00 p.m. All coverage can be seen on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.

The Kings finish off their five-game road trip with a brutal back-to-back in Houston and San Antonio on Saturday and Sunday before returning home to face the Rockets again on Tuesday.

Line

Kings by 4.5

Projected Lineups

Kings
PG De’Aaron Fox
SG Buddy Hield
SF Harrison Barnes
PF Nemanja Bjelcia
C Willie Cauley-Stein

Pelicans
PG Elfrid Payton
SG Cheick Diallo
SF Kenrich Williams
PF Julius Randle
C Anthony Davis

Injury Report

Kings 
C Harry Giles (thigh bruise) out.

Pelicans
C Anthony Davis (back) probable, PG Elfrid Payton (wrist) probable, SG/SF E'Twaun Moore (thigh contusion) out, PG Jrue Holiday (core muscle) out, G Trevon Bluiett (thumb) out, PG Frank Jackson (concussion) out.

Rotation Outlook

Kings

Dave Joerger's crew has already shown a 10-game improvement over last season's win total, but they have dreams of finishing the season at or above the .500 mark. With a difficult weekend schedule, they'll need a victory over the Pelicans to give themselves a fighting chance.

Harry Giles is out for a fourth consecutive game with a thigh contusion. The injury is not considered serious and the team has not shut the rookie down for the remainder of the season.

With the Stockton Kings' season ending on Wednesday evening, the Sacramento Kings have recalled Cody Demps and Caleb Swanigan back to the parent club. Demps signed a 10-day contract on March 22nd and is attempting to become the first Sacramento State player to play in an NBA game. Both players are expected to arrive in New Orleans Thursday evening, but there is no word if either will be in uniform for the Kings.

Pelicans

Alvin Gentry's group is dealing with plenty of injuries down the stretch, although it appears that big man Anthony Davis is available to play against the Kings.

Julius Randle is having a very nice season with New Orleans after joining the team over the summer. He's posting 21 points and 8.6 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game. The 24-year-old has a player option at $9 million for next season and is likely heading back into the free agency pool looking for a big-time payday.

[RELATED: Kings set new goal of finishing season over .500, with playoff hopes over]

New Orleans can really score the ball, posting the league's third most points per game at 115.4 per game. They push the tempo, ranking third in pace and they come into the night as the NBA's third best rebounding team. On the defensive end, they aren't good. The Pelicans give up 116.3 points per game and rank 23rd in defensive rating.

For Kings' De'Aaron Fox, NBA All-Star break was just what doctor ordered

For Kings' De'Aaron Fox, NBA All-Star break was just what doctor ordered

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA All-Star break is the last major milestone in the regular season before the mad dash to the finish line. It’s also a time for both mental and physical recovery, which was much needed for the Kings.

Buddy Hield went to Chicago to win the NBA's 3-point title. Cory Joseph made a visit to Maui and coach Luke Walton spent the weekend in Cabo with his wife. De’Aaron Fox took some time to heal up.

Coming off the best month of his career in January, Fox limped into the break. Following the team’s getaway game in Dallas, he was seen icing his left ankle that he injured early in the season. The issue caught the eye of at least one national writer.

According to ESPN’s Marc Spears: “Keep an eye on point guard De'Aaron Fox, who is still trying to recover from an early season ankle injury. The All-Star break came at a much-needed time for Fox. The third-year point guard is having issues with tightness in his ankle when he sits for long stretches during games, a source told ESPN.”

A league source confirmed to NBC Sports California that Fox’s ankle is nothing more than “normal grind of a long season.” The week away was just what the doctor ordered.

Fox originally injured his left ankle during practice on Nov. 11. He missed 17 games with a Grade 3 sprain, but came back much faster than originally predicted.

Following practice on Wednesday, Walton said he noticed that the time off might have done Fox some good.

“He looked really good yesterday and today, looks like he’s moving better,” Walton said. “He has some of that bounce back. The break, I think was great for everyone, including De’Aaron.”

[RELATED: Parker expects to make Kings debut against Grizzlies]

Fox is having another breakout season for the Kings. He went into the break averaging a career-best 19.7 points to go with seven assists and 4.2 rebounds in 31.5 minutes per game.

If the Kings have any chance of making a late run, they need their starting point guard healthy and ready to play a major role.

Kings' Jabari Parker ready for Sacramento debut; Alex Len getting closer

Kings' Jabari Parker ready for Sacramento debut; Alex Len getting closer

SACRAMENTO -- With 28 games remaining in the 2019-20 season, the Kings hit the practice court for one last workout before starting the stretch run Thursday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

It was a lively practice, with Bogdan Bogdanovic hitting 90 consecutive free-throw attempts, a couple of new faces hitting the practice facility floor and the reigning 3-point champ speaking to the media.

Here are a few notes and quotes coming out of Wednesday’s practice.

Jabari Parker is ready

After sitting out since Jan. 3 with a shoulder impingement issue, and playing just once since Dec. 23, Parker is confident he’ll play Thursday night when the Kings face the Grizzlies.

“Yeah, I’ve been expecting to play the last couple of games,” Parker said following practice. “Hopefully I’ll get out tomorrow, keep my hopes high.”

Any enthusiasm regarding Parker should be tempered slightly. The 24-year-old forward has played just one game in almost two months. He isn’t in basketball shape and will take time to get up to speed with Sacramento. That doesn’t mean he won’t score the ball, he might just have to be used in short bursts.

“Hopefully just be that guy that can score, be that guy that can create on the offensive end, be uptempo on both sides of the floor,” Parker said, of what Kings fans should expect when he makes his debut.

Alex Len is getting closer

Len fully participated in practice, but he still needs more time before jumping back in the rotation. Acquired along with Parker at the deadline for Dewayne Dedmon, the 7-footer hasn’t played since Jan. 24 due to a strained right hip flexor.

Atlanta updated his condition on Jan. 31, putting him out of action for another 7-10 days. With the Kings short-handed in the post, they could use the former No. 5 overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft.

"Last night's practice he did full contact, everything else he was in," Walton said. "Today he was a full go and he looked good out there. He was moving well and hopefully, we'll get him back this weekend if not early next week -- depending on how he feels in the morning."

Len is averaging 8.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and .8 blocks in 18.6 minutes per game for the Hawks. The only healthy and available center on the Kings’ roster heading into the stretch run is Harry Giles.

[RELATED: What Kings must do down stretch to make NBA playoff push]

Congrats

While it has nothing to do with the current state of the franchise, a heartfelt congratulations go out to former Kings coach Dave Joerger, who recently exchanged wedding vows with Kimberly Irons in Paso Robles.

Joerger spent three seasons as the Kings' coach from 2016 to 2019, compiling a 98-148 record.