Kings-Cavaliers Preview

Even with LeBron James gone and their current roster slightly

undermanned, the Cleveland Cavaliers still might have a good chance

to continue their recent dominance of the Sacramento Kings.

Coming off their first defeat in the post-James era, the

Cavaliers can get back on track with a ninth consecutive victory

over the Kings on Saturday night.

After beating Boston on Wednesday in its much-anticipated first

game since James took his talents to Miami, Cleveland fell 101-81

at Toronto on Friday. Antawn Jamison scored 13 points for the

Cavaliers, who played without starters Mo Williams and Anderson

Varejao.

“We went backwards,” first-year Cleveland coach Byron Scott

said

It’s uncertain if either of the absent starters will be back in

the lineup Saturday. Varejao is tending to his ill father, while

Williams has yet to play because of an injured groin.

Still, without James, the Cavaliers seem to have embraced the

underdog status branded on them to start the season.

“I’m kind of used to being the underdog, so I prefer it that way

because teams tend to not come out and play as hard. It works to

our advantage,” forward J.J. Hickson told the Cavaliers’ official

website.

The Cavaliers hope that’s the case again against Sacramento. Led

by James, the Cavaliers averaged 109.0 points during an eight-game

winning streak over the Kings.

If Cleveland is to extend that run and a four-game home winning

streak against Sacramento, it likely needs a better offensive

showing than the one put forth Friday. Anthony Parker had 10 points

and was the only other player in double figures for the Cavaliers,

who shot 38.1 percent while scoring fewer points than in any game

last season.

Scott could again look to Jamison, who has averaged 26.3 points

and 9.3 rebounds in his last six games versus Sacramento.

The Kings (1-1) went 7-34 away from home last season and didn’t

record their second road win until Dec. 19, but can do so while

concluding a season-opening three-game trip.

After missing the opener while serving a one-game suspension for

pleading no-contest to reckless driving, reigning NBA rookie of the

year Tyreke Evans had 18 points and seven assists in Sacramento’s

106-100 loss at New Jersey on Friday.

The Kings allowed the Nets to shoot 52.5 percent, and sent them

to the free-throw line 45 times. New Jersey made 36 of those

attempts.

“We have to take this loss on the chin and come back,” Evans

said.

Evans had 28 points in a 117-104 overtime home loss to the

Cavaliers on Dec. 23, but missed the teams’ last meeting at

Cleveland in March because of a concussion.

Sacramento has not beaten the Cavaliers since a 97-90 win on

March 1, 2006 at Cleveland. Francisco Garcia is the only current

King to have played in that game, scoring 11 points. He had 18 off

the bench Friday.

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, the fifth overall pick in the

draft, had 12 points before fouling out with 3:26 to play. He’s

totaled 26 points and 12 rebounds in his first two NBA games.