Suns hoping for shots to fall against Kings
The Sacramento Kings were one of the NBA's most efficient offensive teams until they were forced to play without DeMarcus Cousins.
The Phoenix Suns are hoping their shots will eventually start falling.
But the Suns might catch a break Wednesday night since they will host a Kings team expected to again play without Cousins.
Sacramento (1-3) averaged 105.5 points per 100 possessions for one of the league's best marks and an NBA-high 59.3 points in the paint through three games with Cousins in the lineup.
The power forward missed his first game Tuesday with a strained right Achilles and his absence was apparent as the Kings fell 103-89 at home to Memphis, totaling a season-low 32 points in the paint.
"Our offense was pretty well controlled by their defense," coach George Karl said.
Rudy Gay scored 19 points and Darren Collison added 18 for Sacramento, which went 6-17 last season when Cousins was out.
Kosta Koufos started in Cousins' place and had 11 points and six rebounds. Cousins averages 22.0 points and 11.0 boards.
"The season's young," Koufos said. "We have a lot to work on but we're still very talented, we're very confident in what we're doing."
Phoenix (2-2) has outrebounded every opponent this season with the addition of defensive stopper Tyson Chandler providing a major presence. He is fourth in the league with 11.8 rebounds per game.
The misfiring Suns are shooting 40.3 percent and 28.8 percent on 3-pointers. They have shot below 40 percent in their two defeats, a 39.1 percent effort in a 111-95 loss to Dallas last Wednesday and a 36.7 percent performance in Monday's 102-96 road defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Phoenix shot 45.2 percent last season. Coach Jeff Hornacek told his team to keep shooting at Tuesday's practice.
"We told our guys today, 'Look, you're 2-2. You throw the Dallas game away, you had a chance to maybe win last night's game in L.A., and you've shot 40 percent â 29 percent from the 3-point line. You guys are better shooters than that.' When we shoot better, we'll get going," he said.
Markieff Morris is shooting 32.3 percent and speculation is growing that he misses playing with twin brother Marcus Morris, who was traded to Detroit in the offseason.
The Suns also haven't been helped by rookie sharpshooter Devin Booker missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Booker is questionable.
Chandler said he is encouraging guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight to drive to the basket.
"The more paint touches the better chance we have of getting an offensive rebound," Chandler said. "Guards get in there, get 'em in foul trouble, make 'em tentative."
The absence of Booker would mean he will miss a chance to play against former Kentucky teammate Willie Cauley-Stein, who has averaged 11.3 points on 13-of-17 shooting while starting the last three games. He was partly victimized defensively by the experienced Grizzlies' frontcourt Tuesday.
Sacramento took three of four from Phoenix last season, winning both times on the road.