Bobcats-Kings Preview

The drama over the Sacramento Kings’ fate could end next month.

In the meantime, the Kings will try to put together some winning

performances in front of their fans.

Sacramento will play 13 of its next 18 games at home beginning

with Sunday’s visit from the Charlotte Bobcats.

The NBA received an official offer on Friday from 24 Hour

Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and billionaire Ron Burkle to buy the

Kings and keep them in Sacramento. The current owners, the Maloof

family, signed an agreement in January with a group led by

hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chief executive Steve

Ballmer to sell a 65 percent stake in the team for $341

million.

That group has already petitioned the league to relocate the

team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The NBA board of

governors is expected to vote in mid-April on that bid.

Before that happens, Kings fans will get plenty of chances to

see their team. Sacramento (20-40) will play seven of its next nine

games on its own court and will try to avoid a fourth straight home

loss to Charlotte (13-45) in the first of those.

The Kings enter this game having lost seven of eight and capped

a 1-4 road trip with Friday’s 130-102 defeat to San Antonio.

Reserve Marcus Thornton had 25 points but Sacramento allowed the

Spurs to shoot an opponent season-high 60.7 percent.

“It’s only one game. I think we can bounce back on Sunday. We’ve

just got to be ready to play,” guard Tyreke Evans said. “It’s an

early game. We’ve got to get our rest and be ready to play.”

Thornton is averaging 27.0 points over the last three games –

14.5 better than his season average – but leading scorer DeMarcus

Cousins (17.2 per game) has combined for 22 in his last two.

Sacramento’s biggest problem, however, has been a defense that

is allowing an NBA-worst 116.3 points per game in 10 contests since

Feb. 9.

A matchup with the Bobcats might help end those defensive woes.

Averaging 93.2 points, Charlotte is among the league’s least

dynamic teams and had its worst scoring performance of the season

in a 98-68 drubbing in Utah on Friday.

Byron Mullens (12 points) and Ramon Sessions (11) were the only

players in double figures for the Bobcats, who had nine

first-quarter points on 4-of-20 shooting. Charlotte ended up

shooting 34.6 percent in its 21st loss in 25 games and fifth in a

row.

“You just need to keep your head and keep fighting,” Mullens

said. “You just have to remember it’s just a game. Just go out

there and have fun. I know it’s a job now, but you still have to go

out and compete.”

The Bobcats, loser in nine of 10 on the road, have dropped the

past two matchups with the Kings, including a 97-93 defeat Jan.

19.

Evans hit the go-ahead layup with 1:19 remaining and combined

with Isaiah Thomas for nine of the game’s final 12 points. Thornton

led five Kings in double figures with 18 points off the bench.