Kings-Suns Preview

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

games.

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

season average.

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

row overall.

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.