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

November 23, 2012
Kings at Jazz: Five things to watch

SALT LAKE CITY - Tonight's game provides a test of the Kings' maturity.

They are playing on the road, and the opponent isn't a title contender. So what kind of effort will we see from Sacramento against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena?

It's anyone's guess.

With that in mind here are some things to consider as the Kings go for their first road win of the season:

1. What will Keith Smart's starting lineup be? -We haven't seen Smart change his starting lineup for matchup purposes this season. If the Jazz go with a frontline of Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson Smart might decide to go with a bigger frontcourt. That could mean going with Thomas Robinson early in the game or starting him to matchup with Millsap. Smart could take his chances with John Salmons defending Millsap, but he doesn't want to double team post players if possible and Millsap would be a lot for Salmons to handle alone.

2. Tyreke Evans becoming Tyreke Evans again - We've had two consecutive games in which Evans has began to look comfortable on both ends of the court (19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, four assists, 15 of 25 shooting). Smart has praised Evans' defense all season, but the Kings don't have a chance to beat most teams if Evans isn't a big part of the offense.

3. Cousins on the court - The Kings were at their best for a good portion of Wednesday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers with DeMarcus Cousins on the bench with foul trouble. When Cousins returned in the fourth quarter he made two strong moves toward the basket to score on Pau Gasol. Cousins will need to play with similar poise against Jefferson.

4. Veteran assistance - John Salmons was everything the Kings hoped he'd be last season on Wednesday. Chuck Hayes did the same off the bench. They'll be important for the Kings, who have been at their worst in the past when rattled on the road.

5. Jason Thompson's consistency - Thompson is quietly off to a good start this season. He's the only starter shooting above 50 percent and in his last five games Thompson is averaging 12.6 points and 9.8 rebounds. And it appears that if Cousins doesn't to work on the low block the Kings will turn to Thompson.

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