Kings, Clippers brace for high-scoring game
LOS ANGELES — For anybody who failed to get the bushel of points they were looking for under the tree, the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers appear as if they are about to oblige in their post-Christmas clash in Southern California on Wednesday night.
The evidence seems to suggest that points, points and more points are coming, although the Clippers might have a wrinkle that would foil that plan.
Ever since high-scoring reserve guard Lou Williams has returned from a hamstring issue, the Clippers have been back to their fill-it-up ways, with a deluge in the amount of 128 points per game in their last three contests. In the previous four games without Williams, the Clippers had averaged 104.3.
But in Sunday night’s thrilling 129-127 defeat to the Golden State Warriors, Williams was poked in the eye by Steph Curry in the fourth quarter. The blow caused him to shoot his two ensuing free throws with his left eye swollen shut (he made one of the two) and he did not play the rest of the way.
Williams is expected to play and the Clippers know they could use him against an opponent averaging 115.1 points per game and coming off consecutive wins.
“Yeah, I think as a team, our swagger is back as a unit,” Clippers leading-scorer Tobias Harris said. “It obviously helps having Lou back out here with us. He’s another playmaker who can have the ball in his hands and be productive coming of screen-and-rolls and scoring. But we’re getting into different sets where we’re moving, we’re running, we’re playing better defense.”
Kings catalyst Buddy Hield is not only feeling fine, he is on a roll in December with six consecutive games of 20-or-more points.
Hield not only scored 28 points in each of the Kings’ most recent victories. Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans and Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies he had a career-best 38 in a loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
The third-year guard is averaging 20.1 points this season and is shooting 48-percent from the field, including an impressive 44-percent from 3-point range, 11th best in the NBA among qualifiers.
At 18-15, the Kings are tied with the Houston Rockets for one of the last two playoff spots. They also are one game behind the Clippers.
“We’ve got some young bodies, some young minds, and the best is in front of us,” Kings head coach Dave Joerger said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “We have the vision. We know where we’re going. We’re all on the same page. And I think that shows our fans and the rest of the nation that we’re so solid here, and the next five years are going to be really fun.”
More evidence that Kings vs. Clippers could be a high-scoring affair: A 133-121 Clippers victory at Sacramento on Nov. 29 that included 42-point quarters from each side and a combined 71 points in the second quarter alone.
While the Clippers will await Williams? status for Wednesday, they will be without Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) yet again. The forward has been out since October, but head coach Doc Rivers had suggested recently that his defensive-minded forward was getting close to a return.
The Kings have been without forward/center Marvin Bagley since Dec. 14 because a knee injury and he is expected to be re-evaluated soon.