The Sacramento Kings begin another rough scheduling stretch, playing five games in seven nights against five teams fighting for playoff position in three different time zones. They'll begin the barrage of games Sunday afternoon at the Pepsi Center against the Denver Nuggets.
Sacramento picked up their 21st win of the season Friday evening at Golden 1 Center against the Orlando Magic. Garrett Temple led the way with 23 points and Kosta Koufos posted a big 18-point, 13-rebounds double-double.
Denver is in a dogfight in the Western Conference playoff chase. They are currently tied with the Utah Jazz for the ninth spot in the standings and they trail the Los Angeles Clippers by just a game for the eight seed with 16 games remaining on the schedule.
Denver by 11.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Bogdan Bogdanovic vs. Gary Harris -- Bogdanovic is in a mini shooting slump over his last two games, but he finds ways to help his team. Against the Magic on Friday night, he posted a career-best 10 assists to go with eight points. Harris is having a breakout season in his fourth year in the league. He averages 17.8 points on 40.7 percent shooting from long range in 35 minutes per game for head coach Michael Malone.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 21-45, fourth place in Pacific
Nuggets: 36-30, fourth place in Northwest
Kings: PG De'Aaron Fox (lower back strain) questionable, C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back) questionable, PF Skal Labissiere (bruised left hip) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.
Nuggets: SF Wilson Chandler (right hip) probable.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Playoff Intensity -- The Kings don't have anything but pride to play for in the final 16 games of the season, but every game matters for the Nuggets. Denver plays five of their next six contests against non-playoff teams as they try to fight their way back into the postseason picture.
Walking Wounded -- Sacramento's injury report is long and includes plenty of the young players that Dave Joerger was hoping to turn to down the stretch. Labissiere won't play after taking a major spill against Orlando. Fox and Cauley-Stein will be game time decisions.
Hit the Defensive Glass -- Denver ranks second in the league in offensive rebounds at 11.1 boards per game. The Kings need to get a body on the Nuggets bigs and finish off the defensive possession with a rebound. Sacramento ranks last in the league in defensive rebounds, so it could be a long afternoon.
Denver leads the season series 2-1, but the Kings own a one game win streak after knocking off the Nuggets at Golden 1 Center in early January. The Nuggets hold a slim 90-89 lead the all-time series but the Kings are up 66-65 during the Sacramento-era.