The Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns have little to play for
over the final three weeks of the season but the Kings appear less
content to ride out the string.
Sacramento seeks its fourth win in six games Thursday night
while trying to earn a rare road victory over the lowly Suns.
The Kings (26-46) are set to miss the playoffs for a seventh
straight season but they have registered their most wins since
2007-08 after a 105-98 victory at Golden State on Wednesday. Isaiah
Thomas had 31 points and made a career-high seven 3-pointers on 12
attempts as Sacramento earned only its second win in 15 road
In his last nine games, Thomas is shooting 44.3 percent from
beyond the arc and is averaging 20.7 points – 7.0 better than his
The Kings entered Wednesday’s contest with a league-worst 6-30
road record and hadn’t defeated an opponent with a winning record
away from Sacramento until beating the Warriors.
“I thought overall our guys did a great job. We held our
composure,” coach Keith Smart said. “A road win, no matter where
you are in the season, is always positive.”
Earning wins in Phoenix have proved just about as difficult for
Sacramento as it’s lost in 12 of 13 visits, the most recent a
101-90 defeat Dec. 17. The Kings, though, snapped a five-game
overall skid in the series with a 121-112 home victory March 8.
Thomas had a team-best 27 points and was one of four Kings
players to top 20.
This time, the point guard and his teammates will face a Suns
team that’s dropped 10 of 12 after a 103-88 loss in Utah on
Wednesday. Phoenix (23-49), which owns the Western Conference’s
worst record, trailed by four points entering the fourth quarter
but was outscored 28-17 in those final 12 minutes. The Suns have
been brutal offensively in the fourth quarter during a four-game
skid, averaging 18.0 points on 28.9 percent shooting.
Wes Johnson had a season-high 22 points in the losing effort
after scoring 21 in a home defeat to Brooklyn on Sunday.
Leading scorer Goran Dragic had 31 points and 12 assists in that
102-100 defeat to the Nets, but was given the night off Wednesday.
Dragic has averaged 36.0 minutes over the previous six games and is
expected to get some rest over the final 12.
“We’re just kind of shutting him down,” interim coach Lindsey
Hunter said before the game. “He’s been playing a whole lot of
minutes and we’re going to give him a break periodically through
these last couple of games. If you watched him come out of games,
he’s looked like he’s been in a brawl.”
The Suns will try to avoid a season high-tying fourth straight
defeat at the U.S. Airways Center on Thursday and their fifth in a
Phoenix needs five wins in its final 10 games to avoid posting
its fewest in a full season since going 16-66 in its inaugural
1968-69 campaign. The Suns were 27-23 in the lockout-shortened
1998-99 season and 28-54 in 1987-88.