Raptors-Kings Preview

The Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors have scuffled in recent

years as two of the NBA’s worst teams. This season looks no


Both will look for improved defense as they try to snap slumps

Wednesday night, with the Kings hoping to avoid a fourth straight

loss while handing the Raptors an eighth in a row on the road.

The clubs are in last place in their respective divisions after

going a combined 55-87 last season. Neither team has finished with

a winning record in any of the past five seasons.

Both currently rank toward the bottom of the league in points

allowed, with Toronto giving up 101.9 per game and Sacramento


The Kings (4-12) are fresh off allowing their highest point

total of the season in a 116-81 road loss to the Los Angeles

Clippers on Saturday. In suffering the most lopsided defeat in

series history between the Pacific Division foes, Sacramento forced

just five turnovers and let Los Angeles shoot 54.7 percent.

“It was very frustrating,” said Jason Thompson, who had 16

points and 12 rebounds. “They were pretty much getting anything

they wanted on the offensive end, and we obviously didn’t make it

better by not scoring in the beginning. We got ourselves into a

hole that we couldn’t get out of.”

Even as they’ve struggled, the Kings have usually boasted a

potent offense, averaging 99.4 points over the last three seasons.

But Sacramento is scoring 93.6 per game this season – its lowest

mark since 1997-98.

The Kings’ 34 first-half points Saturday were a season low.

“We didn’t really come out with any energy,” said DeMarcus

Cousins, held to eight points and six boards. “And it showed.”

The Raptors (4-14) also suffered from a slow start in their last

game, falling behind 61-44 in the first half Monday at Denver. They

cut the deficit to one with 2:18 left but could not take the lead,

losing 113-110 after DeMar DeRozan missed a 3-pointer as time


“We made a commitment in the second half to play defense the

whole time,” said point guard Kyle Lowry, who scored 12 of his

game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter.

“We have to play like we did in the second half in the first


That was the opener of a five-game trip for Toronto, which is

1-10 in road games. The current seven-game slide away from home is

the Raptors’ longest since dropping their final eight road games of

the 2010-11 season.

They’re 2-13 all-time in Sacramento, allowing an average of

105.5 points.

The Kings’ offense could be tougher for the Raptors to slow down

if Tyreke Evans returns. He practiced Monday after sitting out two

games with a bruised left knee, and coach Keith Smart told the

team’s official website he expects Evans to play. He’s averaging

20.5 points in four career games against the Raptors, including 29

in a 98-91 win at Toronto on Jan. 11 in the teams’ only meeting

last season.

Cousins posted 21 points and 19 rebounds in that game, but he

has only one double-double in his past nine games after ranking

sixth in league last season with 36.