Suns-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 22, 2013
The Phoenix Suns own the worst record in the Western Conference, so they're hoping a coaching change can provide a jolt. The Sacramento Kings aren't much better, and their potential changes include packing their bags. Lindsey Hunter will make his coaching debut as the Suns attempt to win for just the third time in over a month Wednesday night when they visit the Kings. Phoenix (13-28) seems to be on its way to a third consecutive season out of the playoffs after losing 13 of 15 since a season-high four-game winning streak, falling to the bottom of the West. Those woes continued with Thursday's 98-94 loss to Milwaukee, a defeat that resulted in coach Alvin Gentry and the club mutually agreeing to part ways. That was the initial move in a shakeup that also has seemingly led to the departure of assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner, who were among those interviewed to replace Gentry. Instead, it'll be Hunter - the team's player development director - at the helm for the remaining 41 games. "I think the simple answer is that the organization needed a jolt," general manager Lance Blanks said. "We needed something that would shock the system of us, the players, and risk trumps safety in this business. We felt this was the right person to take the risk on." Hunter spent 17 seasons in the NBA before retiring in 2010, winning NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit. The three practices since his hiring have been longer than the ones Gentry ran. "I know these practices are a lot longer than they are accustomed to, but we've got a lot to get accomplished," Hunter said. "Like I told them, I don't watch the clock. I just watch what they do, and we have to work until we can't forget what we're supposed to do, not until we get it. We have to work until we can't forget it." The emphasis on defense may help the Suns since they give up an average of 104.1 points on 40.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc while going 3-17 on the road. "I'm a defensive guy," Hunter said. "That's the identity that we're going to try to create, is being a tough, nasty, defensive-minded team, and we'll go from there." The Kings (16-26) may be headed for an identity overhaul of their own, possibly relocating to Seattle and becoming the SuperSonics. While the move is still awaiting approval from NBA owners, Sacramento is making efforts to keep the team. The Kings are returning home for the first time since the Maloof family announced that they were selling their entire 65 percent share for $525 million to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen on Monday. Hours following that announcement, Sacramento fell 114-105 at New Orleans to lose for the sixth time in nine games. The Kings are allowing an average of 111.7 points in those defeats. DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 13 rebounds against the Hornets, and is averaging 23.0 and 13.0 over the past five games. The center has 20.9 points per game and 9.6 boards over seven meetings with the Suns, but turned in one of his worst performances of the season against them in a 101-90 loss Dec. 17. Cousins finished with nine points and 10 rebounds while making only 1 of 10 attempts from the floor. That was Phoenix's fourth consecutive win in the series, and Jared Dudley is averaging 18.0 points over the past five meetings. The swingman had 20 points against the Kings last month, while Shannon Brown poured in 22 while sinking 10 of 13 from the floor. Brown, who averages 12.3 points, has totaled 41 over the last two games.
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