Hornets-Kings Preview

January 24, 2016

DeMarcus Cousins and Kemba Walker have turned in the two highest-scoring outputs in the last week and they sound pretty similar as to what's their motivation.

These rising stars will be the focal point Monday night when Cousins seeks to lead the Sacramento Kings to their first six-game win streak in 11 seasons as they host Walker's Charlotte Hornets.

Cousins had a career high 48 points and 13 rebounds Saturday in a 108-97 home win over Indiana. He is averaging 32.5 points and 14.2 rebounds during a run of 10 straight double-double.

''Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. That's all I am thinking about,'' said Cousins, who has yet to reach his postseason in his sixth season. ''It's been some rough years. But it's not over and we still got a lot more to go. I'm happy in the moment, but I'm not satisfied.''


Cousins' 32.5 points per game this month leads the NBA.

The only player with a better output over the last seven days was Walker's franchise-record 52 points in a 124-119 double-overtime last Monday over Utah.

The Hornets guard also scored 40 two games later in Friday's 120-116 overtime victory at Orlando before he scored 26 the next night in a 97-84 win over New York. The fifth-year player has been to the playoffs once.

"I just want to win," Walker said. "Whatever it takes, I don't care how many minutes it is, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to fight until the game's over."

Both players are being leaned on more heavily with the second-leading scorer for these clubs out with injuries. Charlotte's Nicolas Batum, averaging 15.1 points, is out with a sprained right toe, while Sacramento's Rudy Gay averages 17.9 and has missed two straight games with a bruised heel.

The Hornets (21-23) have another starter out in Cody Zeller, who may miss some significant time with a strained right shoulder. Jeremy Lin is starting in Batum's spot and Spencer Hawes in Zeller's.

Charlotte, which has dropped seven straight road games against Western Conference foes, is outside the East's top eight.

"We're down guys, good players, key guys, a number of them," coach Steve Clifford said. "We've got now nine more games till the All-Star break and we need to win our share here."

Sacramento (20-23) is eighth in the West as it seeks its first six-game win streak since 2004-05.

Omri Casspi has been starting for Gay the last two games for the Kings, who have overcome woeful shooting in that stretch by the starting backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Ben McLemore. They have combined for 41 points on 32.6 percent shooting.

"The last couple games, our guards aren't shooting at a high level and we're still winning games," coach George Karl said.

Rondo has two straight triple-doubles and six for the season to trail only Golden State's Draymond Green with eight. He guides an offense averaging a league-best 101.9 possessions per 48 minutes.

Sacramento blew a 22-point, second-half lead in a 127-122 overtime loss at Charlotte on Nov. 23. Walker scored 25 of his 39 points after the third quarter while Cousins had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who led by 11 with 3:59 left in regulation.