Playing their second game in three nights, the Sacramento Kings are in Texas tonight to play the Houston Rockets.
Kings Probable Starters (17-31)
|Isaiah Thomas||Marcus Thornton||John Salmons||Jason Thompson||DeMarcus Cousins|
Jason Thompson missed Saturday night’s game with an injured left ankle. No word yet from Houston if he’ll start or even play tonight. Three players earned DNP-CDs in Saturday night’s three-point loss to the Golden State Warriors – Travis Outlaw, Tyler Honeycutt and Jimmer Fredette.
Rockets Probable Starters (26-23)
|Goran Dragic||Courtney Lee||Chandler Parsons||Luis Scola||Samuel Dalembert|
The Rockets have been playing without their starting back court. Former King Kevin Martin has missed several games due to a strained right shoulder and point guard Kyle Lowry may miss the rest of the season with a bacterial infection. In 11 starts, Goran Dragic has filled the void left by Lowry, averaging 16.6 points and 9.5 assists per game.
You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
1. Match-up to watch?
Michael Pina: Watching Marcus Thornton’s machine gun fire offense meet Courtney Lee’s Kevlar vest defense should make for a wonderful match up. This season the two have morphed from role players to above average talents at their position, and getting to see their contrasting strengths collide should make for awesome theater.
Jared Dubin: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Houston’s front line. Cousins will likely be guarded by a few different players throughout the night as the Rockets try to confuse him with different looks. Samuel Dalembert, Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Camby and maybe even Chandler Parsons could all see time opposite Boogie.
Jonathan Santiago: Isaiah Thomas vs. Goran Dragic. The Rockets point guard has been playing at a high level since taking over for the ailing Kyle Lowry. Cutting off Dragic’s passing lanes will be critical for Thomas in tonight’s match-up.
2. Stat that decides the game..
Michael Pina: Turnovers. Both teams are currently in the better half of the league in turnover rate, and in a game that features several young, explosive players in the backcourt who’ve had a day of rest beforehand, the ending could come down to which group does a better job channeling their energy, and controlling the ball.
Jared Dubin: I feel like I use this every time I do a 3-on-3 for Cowbell Kingdom, but it’s rebounding. The Kings gave up a ridiculous 18 offensive boards to the Rockets in their last meeting. They were out-rebounded 55-36 in total in the 14-point loss. You simply can’t give up that many second chance points while not generating any of your own if you plan on winning a basketball game.
Jonathan Santiago: Points in the paint. In their last three games, the Kings have averaged 72 points in the paint. The Kings must push the pace in order to generate similar results around the rim against the Rockets.
3. Worst quandary at guard: the Rockets with Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry or the Kings with Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette?
Michael Pina: In the here and now, I don’t think either is too challenging. Lowry and Thomas should start (when healthy) because both are better players. However, Dragic is a free agent at the end of this season, forcing Houston to face a difficult question regarding how much they’re willing to spend on a backup point guard when other teams may position themselves to entertain him as a starter.
Jared Dubin: The Kings. Thomas looks like the better player early in their respective careers, but Jimmer was the first round pick and is the more marketable commodity. Fredette seems better suited to a bench scorer’s role, while Thomas, the last pick in this year’s draft, looks to be a nice find as a lead guard. Keith Smart has handled it the right way so far, but there’s no telling if that will continue.
Jonathan Santiago: It’s not a bad thing to be overloaded with talent at point guard. But the Rockets may have a more challenging quandary simply because Dragic is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Kings don’t have to worry about choosing between Thomas and Fredette, at least for a few more seasons, since both are signed to multi-year contracts.