Raptors-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 04, 2012
The Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors have scuffled in recent years as two of the NBA's worst teams. This season looks no different. Both will look for improved defense as they try to snap slumps Wednesday night, with the Kings hoping to avoid a fourth straight loss while handing the Raptors an eighth in a row on the road. The clubs are in last place in their respective divisions after going a combined 55-87 last season. Neither team has finished with a winning record in any of the past five seasons. Both currently rank toward the bottom of the league in points allowed, with Toronto giving up 101.9 per game and Sacramento 100.5. The Kings (4-12) are fresh off allowing their highest point total of the season in a 116-81 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. In suffering the most lopsided defeat in series history between the Pacific Division foes, Sacramento forced just five turnovers and let Los Angeles shoot 54.7 percent. "It was very frustrating," said Jason Thompson, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds. "They were pretty much getting anything they wanted on the offensive end, and we obviously didn't make it better by not scoring in the beginning. We got ourselves into a hole that we couldn't get out of." Even as they've struggled, the Kings have usually boasted a potent offense, averaging 99.4 points over the last three seasons. But Sacramento is scoring 93.6 per game this season - its lowest mark since 1997-98. The Kings' 34 first-half points Saturday were a season low. "We didn't really come out with any energy," said DeMarcus Cousins, held to eight points and six boards. "And it showed." The Raptors (4-14) also suffered from a slow start in their last game, falling behind 61-44 in the first half Monday at Denver. They cut the deficit to one with 2:18 left but could not take the lead, losing 113-110 after DeMar DeRozan missed a 3-pointer as time expired. "We made a commitment in the second half to play defense the whole time," said point guard Kyle Lowry, who scored 12 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. "We have to play like we did in the second half in the first 24." That was the opener of a five-game trip for Toronto, which is 1-10 in road games. The current seven-game slide away from home is the Raptors' longest since dropping their final eight road games of the 2010-11 season. They're 2-13 all-time in Sacramento, allowing an average of 105.5 points. The Kings' offense could be tougher for the Raptors to slow down if Tyreke Evans returns. He practiced Monday after sitting out two games with a bruised left knee, and coach Keith Smart told the team's official website he expects Evans to play. He's averaging 20.5 points in four career games against the Raptors, including 29 in a 98-91 win at Toronto on Jan. 11 in the teams' only meeting last season. Cousins posted 21 points and 19 rebounds in that game, but he has only one double-double in his past nine games after ranking sixth in league last season with 36.
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