Kings-Bobcats Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 19, 2013
Kemba Walker was vital to the Charlotte Bobcats ending a losing streak in their last game. Another strong performance Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings would go a long way in helping the Bobcats avoid matching the longest home skid in team history. Walker has emerged as Charlotte's key offensive threat in his second season, leading the team with averages of 17.5 points and 5.6 assists. The point guard came up big for the Bobcats (10-29) on Friday, scoring 25 points with eight rebounds and five assists in a 106-100 win at Orlando that ended a five-game skid. "It's all about confidence," Walker said. "If your coach has confidence in you, that's all you need. My teammates have confidence in me also. It's just really easy to play with these guys." Charlotte has a chance for back-to-back wins for the first time in two months, but will have to snap a 13-game home losing streak to achieve that. The Bobcats have surrendered 106.9 points and opponents are shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range during that slide. They lost a franchise-record 14 in a row to conclude their home schedule last season. Walker averaged 21.5 points in his first 16 home games this season, but that total has dipped to 13.3 in the past four contests there. Over that same stretch, Ramon Sessions - second to Walker with 14.2 points per game - is shooting 32.5 percent from the floor while averaging 12.5 points. Sessions has managed a 17.3 scoring average while connecting on 54.5 percent from the field in his last four meetings with Sacramento (15-25), but those came with Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers. Walker had 13 points in his only career matchup with the Kings on April 22, when the Bobcats lost 114-88 to end their six-game winning streak in the series. Facing Sacramento gives Charlotte a golden opportunity to earn its first home win since Sessions hit the decisive jumper with 28 seconds left in a 98-97 victory over Toronto on Nov. 21. The Kings are 3-15 on the road, giving up an average of 101.2 points. Those troubles away from home continued Friday as Sacramento opened this three-game trip with an 85-69 loss to Memphis. The Kings set a season low in points and matched their worst effort from the field with 34.1 percent. "We couldn't find the right energy or rhythm we needed," coach Keith Smart said, adding that his team "had a lot of missed shots, easy paint shots. "We just couldn't finish plays. We had layup opportunities, close paint shots. We just could never get ourselves into anything that was going to be easy for us to break any runs." DeMarcus Cousins continues to do his part, averaging 27.0 points and 14.3 rebounds over the past three road games. He had 22 points and 12 rebounds Friday, the only Kings player to score in double figures. Cousins tallied 29 points and 10 rebounds at Charlotte last season, while Tyreke Evans scored 22. Evans has averaged 19.8 points in four career meetings with the Bobcats, but he enters this game after going 3 for 10 from the floor and finishing with eight points Friday.
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