DeMarcus Cousins has provided Sacramento with a much-needed spark since his public run-in with coach George Karl.
His on-court run-in with Atlanta's Al Horford, however, will cost him a game.
Cousins won't go up against Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat on Thursday night after being suspended, making the Kings' task of snapping a 13-game road losing streak in the series that much more difficult.
Cousins was penalized for hitting Horford in the head with a forearm in the Hawks' 103-97 home victory Wednesday. The loss of the star forward is all the more damaging for Sacramento as Cousins has averaged 33.3 points in the last four contests, a surge that followed his apology after a report surfaced that Karl wanted to suspend the All-Star for two games because he yelled profanity at him following a loss to San Antonio on Nov. 9.
Cousins had 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds against Atlanta, but shot 7 of 20.
Sacramento (4-8) had won three straight since a team meeting that included upper management Nov. 10 before its comeback fell short in the opener of a five-game trip. The Kings, who dropped to 0-3 on the road, ran off nine straight points to get within 99-97 before Paul Millsap's bucket all but sealed it with 15.7 seconds remaining.
''We let them play to their strength,'' Cousins said. “They play well off turnovers and bad shots, and we took some bad shots.''
Rajon Rondo finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his fourth triple-double in six games. The star point guard, however, is looking to clean things up after committing seven turnovers in each of his last two.
Sacramento seeks its third win in the past 23 meetings with the Heat and first at Miami since November 2001.
Cousins' absence should make things easier for Whiteside, who's coming off his second career triple-double with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks in Tuesday's 103-91 loss to Minnesota. The 7-footer, who spent his first two seasons with the Kings, became the seventh player in league history with multiple points-rebounds-blocks triple-doubles.
Whiteside, averaging 15.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and a NBA-high 4.6 blocks, did not play in a 114-109 overtime win March 7 in the most recent meeting at AmericanAirlines Arena. He only played 15 minutes while battling foul trouble against Cousins in a 95-83 road win Jan. 16.
The Heat (6-4) are also looking to get back on track after they had won the first three of this seven-game homestand. They held Minnesota to 37.1 percent shooting – including 4 of 21 from 3-point range – but sent them to the line 35 times.
Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh totaled 20 points on 10-of-25 shooting for Miami, which was 5 for 24 from 3-point range, 14 of 30 from the foul line and committed a season-high 22 turnovers.
''You don't make open shots, you don't take care of the ball, you don't make free throws, you ain't winning that game,” Wade said. “You put this one behind you and move on to the next.''
Wade has averaged 27.8 points with a 62.8 field-goal percentage in his last six home meetings with the Kings, who are 3-24 all-time at Miami.