Kings-Nets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 05, 2013
Brook Lopez is the highest scoring center in the NBA, but DeMarcus Cousins isn't far behind. Although Cousins got the better of the most recent matchup, it was Lopez and the Brooklyn Nets that emerged with the win. The centers will be matched up for the final time this season as the Nets and Sacramento Kings attempt to continue their respective surges Saturday night at Barclays Center. Lopez leads all starting centers with an average of 18.9 points, while Cousins has 17.1 per game and has added 10.3 rebounds. Cousins was much more productive than his counterpart on Nov. 18, scoring 29 points while holding Lopez to 13. However, Brooklyn (18-15) won 99-90 for its sixth victory in the last eight meetings. Both teams enter this matchup having won four of five with their respective centers playing key roles. Lopez is averaging 24.8 points and 9.0 boards while hitting 60.0 percent from the floor in that span, while Cousins has 19.4 points and 14.0 rebounds in five games since missing two due to a team suspension for unprofessional behavior. Cousins had one of the best games of his career in Friday's 105-96 win at Toronto, scoring a season-high 31 points and matching a career best with 20 rebounds. ''He had the right energy to start the game, he had the right mindset of not trying to score 50 but trying to let his teammates play,'' coach Keith Smart said. ''He's in a good spot as a basketball player right now and he's only going to get better.'' While Lopez is surrounded by All-Star guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, Cousins' play for Sacramento is vital with swingman Tyreke Evans out with a knee injury. That's likely why Smart called him, "the guy who makes it all work for us." The Kings (13-20) surely see that as a welcome change for Cousins, a noted malcontent who has already been suspended three times in less than three full seasons. "He's involved and he's understanding the game better," said John Salmons, who had 20 points Friday. "He's understanding what it takes to win. He's trying to do to things for this team to move up in the standings and make a playoff push." Salmons is averaging 15.0 points in his last four games, but he had just two in nearly 28 minutes against the Nets in November. The Kings notched their second straight road win Friday after winning once in their first 14 games away from home. They haven't managed a three-game road win streak since March 23-27, 2011. "We're playing some good team basketball," Cousins said. "It doesn't matter who's having a good night, let's feed them the rock. That's been our mindset and it's been working." The Nets, though, have a three-game home winning streak against the Kings, and Lopez has totaled 55 points and 19 rebounds in the past two. He had 27 points and 13 rebounds before Johnson hit the go-ahead jumper with 0.7 seconds left in Friday's 115-113 double-overtime win at Washington. Johnson finished with 18 points, while Williams added 24 with 10 assists. "That's what big-time players do. We put him in a good position to make the play, and he made the play," coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Johnson after improving to 4-1 since taking over for the fired Avery Johnson. Johnson wasn't very good against Sacramento two months ago, making 1 of 10 shots from the floor and finishing with 10 points. He had been averaging 24.4 points over the previous eight meetings.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Eli did not look thrilled after Peyton locked up Super Bowl

Rick Reilly sends awkward tweet during Super Bowl 50

Peyton Manning gives Papa John a kiss after game

Panthers' Josh Norman crying after losing Super Bowl

Peyton Manning ‘going to drink a lot of Budweiser’ after win

Where Peyton Manning ranks among Super Bowl era QBs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Peyton Manning declines to comment on possible retirement

Mike Carey not heard from again after being wrong earlier

Von Miller forces Cam Newton fumble to secure Super Bowl win

With cryptic tweet, did Marshawn Lynch just hang up his cleats?

NFL shows off every Super Bowl MVP in history

Jordan Norwood breaks off longest punt return in Super Bowl history

Five biggest boneheaded plays of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Cam Newton gives questionable effort to recover fumble

Lions say Calvin Johnson's future still not determined

How Louisville basketball bungled their self-imposed ban

Ted Ginn Jr. whiffs on football twice on one play, results in Panthers turnover

Kony Ealy makes one-handed interception of Peyton Manning

Mike Carey gets another call wrong on incomplete pass in SB

Steph Curry beats Panthers' "Keep Pounding" drum

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

WATCH: Panthers' Jonathan Stewart leaps over pile for TD

Aqib Talib commits three awful penatlies in first half of SB

WATCH: Broncos score TD after Von Millers sacks Cam Newton

WATCH: Luke Kuechly sacks Peyton Manning

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker