This is the kind of game the Kings have shown the tendency to lose in recent seasons.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have lost five game games in a row and key players have been injured. In these situations the Kings have shown up overconfident and gotten beaten (see last season's loss to Golden State after the Monta Ellis trade).
For a team that has been below .500 more times than not lately, it was amazing how many times I heard something along the lines of "we were overconfident" after a loss.
The Kings have won two of their last three games and their own mistakes are the reason they aren't on a three-game winning streak. But at 4-9, the Kings are still tied for the worst record in the Western Conference.
Here are five ways the Kings can prevent this game from becoming a harsh reality check.
1. Keep making shots: Sounds simple, but the Kings have been shooting well above their norm, the guards in particular. The Kings have shot 50 percent or better three consecutive games. It's boosted the Kings to 19th in shooting in the NBA (44.4 percent) after Sacramento has been near the bottom to start the season.
2. Proper focus: Don't get caught up in the Timberwolves' losing streak. Because Minnesota still has the only All-Star on the floor (Kevin Love) and he can take over a game.
3. Just play ball: DeMarcus Cousins gets plenty of heat for his bickering with officials. But he's far from the only offender. The Kings need to play through the bad calls, accept ones that go in their favor (because that happens, too) and not let officiating throw them off their game.
4. Match the physical play: Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic has given Cousins fits with his aggressive style. He's averaging 18.2 points and shooting 54.5 percent in six road games.
5. Fast start: The starting lineup of Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, John Salmons and Cousins has done a good job of keeping the Kings in games early. That way the reserves aren't charged with having to rally from a big deficit.