Game 18 Preview: Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic

DeMarcus Cousins passes out of a double-team against the Toronto Raptors. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Gametime: 7:00 pm PT

Where:  Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA.

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Magic perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network affiliate Magic Basketball.

Sacramento Kings Probable Starters (5-12)

PG: Aaron Brooks
SG: Tyreke Evans
SF: John Salmons
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins

Orlando Magic Probable Starters (7-11)

PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Maurice Harkless
PF: Glen Davis
C: Nikola Vucevic

Three questions to ponder

1. Can the Kings contain the Magic’s balanced scoring attack?

Orlando is playing without a superstar these days.  But they’ve managed to stay relevant and competitive by playing good, team basketball.  The Magic has had five or more players score in double figures seven times this year and when that’s happened, they’ve gone 5-2.  Even without Dwight Howard, they’re proving that the sum is greater than their parts.  The Kings defense has shown flashes of potential this year, but they’ve had a bad habit of overlooking their opponents in recent seasons.  That would be a costly mistake against a Magic team that’s played better than expected this year.

2. Will DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson match their Wednesday efforts tonight against Orlando?

The Kings’ starting frontline imposed their will on the Toronto Raptors as both Thompson and Cousins recorded their fifth double-doubles of the season.  Thompson posted an effective 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 10 rebounds, while Cousins scored 25 on 11-of-18 from the field and grabbed a game-high 13 boards.  Keith Smart found a way to get Cousins in good post position by keeping him in motion against the Raptors’ defense.  Can that same strategy be effective tonight against Orlando’s frontline of Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis?

3. Can the Kings get to the line more times than the Magic?

The Kings have seen slight improvement in their free-throw shooting  this year compared to last.  However, Sacramento is having trouble winning the battle at the line against their opponents this season.  Through 17 games, the opposition has averaged roughly seven more free-throw attempts per contest against the Kings (27.5 trips to 20.7).  This year, the Kings have only out-shot opponents four times  from the charity strip, including Wednesday’s victory over the Raptors.  Fortunately for the Kings, their opponent is on pace to set a record low in free-throw attempts per game.  Currently, the Magic get to the line just 17 times a contest.

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