Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

February 11, 2012
Kings vs. Suns: Five things to watch

The Kings (10-16) play another team trying to make up ground in the Western Conference's Pacific Division tonight in the Phoenix Suns (11-15). Here are a few things to keep an eye on when the game tips off at 7 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion:

1. Guard matchup. Kings guard Tyreke Evans has averaged 21.4 points per game in the Kings' last seven games. More important to Kings head coach Keith Smart, though, have been Evans' strides in working to create shots for teammates, which Smart said has made Evans the "unsung hero" in the Kings' recent stretch of four wins in five games.

Tonight, Evans faces the unenviable task of chasing around after Suns point guard Steve Nash, an assignment that usually entails fighting through a lot of screens when the Suns run pick-and-roll. Nash's 10.1 assists per game lead the NBA.

2. Perimeter shooting. In their last four games, the Suns have averaged nearly 25 three-point attempts a game and are shooting just under 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Kings have put an emphasis lately on protecting the paint and forcing shooters to beat them, but may need to pay attention to the perimeter if Channing Frye, Jared Dudley or -- off the bench -- Michael Redd get hot from long distance.

3. The Kings could have a big night on the offensive glass. DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson in particular have been very active under the basket lately getting offensive rebounds and put-back opportunities. The Suns allow 14.7 second-chance points a game, better only than the Washington Wizards.

4. The Suns aren't the same high-scoring bunch. Offense is down around the league this season, but nowhere more noticeably than in Phoenix. The Suns, at or near the top of the NBA in scoring for years, are averaging just 93.2 points per game this season, which points to a slower pace and more half-court offense.

5. The magic number is still 100. The Kings are 5-0 this season when scoring 100 or more points. They have reached the mark in three of their last four games.

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