Marco Belinelli
Kings-Hawks Preview
Marco Belinelli

Kings-Hawks Preview

Published Nov. 18, 2015 12:12 a.m. ET

Sacramento coach George Karl believed last week's much-publicized turmoil would be a good thing. So far, the developments are looking like a season-changer.

DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings hope to keep playing with an edge on the road Wednesday night when they try to win for the first time in 15 meetings with the Atlanta Hawks.

Mired in a 1-7 start that was its worst since 1990-91, Sacramento held a meeting Nov. 10 that was also attended by upper management, including general manager Vlade Divac.

Cousins issued an apology after a report surfaced that Karl wanted to suspend the All-Star for two games because he yelled profanity at the veteran coach following a loss to San Antonio the previous night.


"(Meetings) are very helpful. (But) wins heal everything," Divac told the team's official website.

The Kings (4-7) are surely getting along much better after improving to 3-0 since the meeting with Sunday's 107-101 win over Toronto to close out a six-game homestand.

After allowing an average of 110.6 points in its first eight games, Sacramento has given up 100.7 over the past three.

At the same time, Cousins has taken his game to another level. The center has averaged 36.3 points on 51.4 percent shooting - including 9 of 15 from 3-point range - during the winning streak. He had been scoring 21.8 per game with a 37.1 field-goal percentage over his first four.

"He has been playing great lately," teammate Marco Belinelli said. "I'm really happy for him.''

Cousins finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks Sunday and Rudy Gay scored a season-high 27. Gay has totaled 52 points on 20-of-30 shooting in his last two games after scoring 16.3 per game while shooting 39.7 percent over his first eight.

He's also totaled 45 points on 18-of-28 shooting in his last two games at Atlanta. Rajon Rondo, who has averaged 14.0 assists in his last five overall, has dished out 13.4 per game in his past eight versus the Hawks.

Now they'll try to help the Kings, 0-2 on the road, snap the league's longest active losing streak for one team over an opponent in the opener of a season-high five-game trip.

Atlanta's 14-game winning streak versus Sacramento is the second-longest in its history behind a 16-game run over the Nets from Feb. 22, 1986-Feb. 15, 1989. The Hawks, however, are struggling as they enter this meeting with four losses in five games.

Al Horford had 18 points and Paul Millsap scored 17 on Tuesday but Atlanta (8-5) put up a season-low point total and committed a season-high 20 turnovers in its third straight defeat, 90-88 at Brooklyn.

"We didn't take care of the ball," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "So we're going to have to clean that up.''

Since averaging 112.0 points and hitting 40.0 percent from 3-point range over a four-game stretch, the Hawks have scored 94.5 per game while shooting 33.3 percent from 3 in their last three.

They're likely to be without a pair of starters again because of sprained ankles. Jeff Teague has been out the past two games, while Kent Bazemore sat for the first time against the Nets.

Kings backup guard Darren Collison (hamstring) is expected to return from a five-game absence, which should ease the workload on their starter. Rondo played 48 minutes in two of the games Collison missed and at least 43 in the other three.


Marco Belinelli
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