National Basketball Association
Magic-Kings Preview
National Basketball Association

Magic-Kings Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 2:15 a.m. ET

DeMarcus Cousins unleashed his frustration in the direction of his coach yet again, adding another chapter to his feud with George Karl.

The All-Star center, however, isn't the only one unhappy during the Sacramento Kings' slide after Willie Cauley-Stein voiced concerns over his role.

Both clubs will be missing their top big men Friday night when the Kings and visiting Orlando Magic each look to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.

The in-house fighting began shortly after Karl was brought in late last season and only seemed to escalate after reports surfaced that Karl had tried to trade the hot-tempered Cousins shortly after being hired.


The Kings were forced to have a meeting in November that was attended by upper management in the wake of a report that Karl wanted to suspend Cousins after his profanity-laced tirade following a loss to San Antonio.

Things flared up again Wednesday when Cousins had to be calmed by assistant coach Corliss Williamson and guard Rajon Rondo after yelling and heatedly gesturing in Karl's direction during a timeout in a 120-111 home loss to Cleveland. The Kings (25-38) announced Thursday that their leading scorer and rebounder was suspended one game for ''conduct detrimental to the team.''

The fifth overall pick in 2010 finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds against the Cavaliers, giving him averages of 29.9 and 13.1 over his last 10.

Now Sacramento will try to avoid an eighth loss in 10 games without Cousins and eighth in nine overall. The Kings have won five of seven against the Magic (27-36) after Cousins had 29 points and 12 rebounds in a 97-91 road victory Nov. 21 in his return from a one-game suspension for hitting Atlanta's Al Horford with a forearm to the head.

''Cous is a frustrated guy who wants to win,'' Karl said after the first meeting. "Sometimes it gets to him maybe in a negative way, but he cares, he wants to win and he lashes out sometimes in maybe a disruptive way.''

Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos are likely to fill in, while Rudy Gay should carry the scoring load. Cauley-Stein wasn't happy Wednesday after playing 12 minutes partly because of the "matchup," according to Karl, who is expected to coach despite undergoing a cancer-related procedure Thursday.

"I can guard five positions," the rookie said. "There should be no matchup problems ever. So that's just an excuse I think. However, I'm not the coach."

The Magic are having their own issues as they try to avoid their first four-game losing streak since an eight-game skid Jan. 9-29. Nikola Vucevic is expected to miss his third straight game with a strained groin.

Orlando dropped to 2-3 without its leading scorer and rebounder and 0-2 on a four-game trip with Tuesday's 107-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Victor Oladipo had 26 points and Evan Fournier added 23, but Orlando was outrebounded 45-35 and outscored 56-44 in the paint.

''On good nights, we're full of focus on what's going on on the floor. It's very frustrating," said Fournier, who has averaged 19.7 points in his last three games against the Kings dating to his time with Denver.

The Magic hope to tighten things up defensively after allowing 113.0 points per game and a 49.7 field-goal percentage in their last two. The Kings, though, have averaged 111.5 on 48.5 percent shooting over their past two.


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