Game Preview: Kings (8-5) at Pelicans (7-5)


We’re almost out of the month of November and the Kings are still relevant! Let that one soak in for a bit.

The Kings are coming off of an ugly, but necessary win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves played a lot of zone defense. It took the Kings longer than I would have liked to figure out how to attack it, but alas, a win is a win. Less than a month ago the Kings lost a game to the Thunder that they should have won, so I consider this win another small step in the right direction. You can read more about that game in our post game coverage found here and here.

The Kings are in New Orleans tonight to face Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, and the Pelicans … again. The Pelicans beat the Kings in Sacramento 106-100 last time out, with a vintage Tyreke Evans drive sealing the Kings fate late in the fourth. Despite the close score, I didn’t like a lot of what I saw out of the Kings in that game. I thought Sacramento’s team defense was incredibly poor.

The Kings are going to catch a bit of a break in this one because the Pelicans will likely be without Omer Asik (listed as questionable, he missed last week’s game in Sacramento as well), and Eric Gordon, who tore his labrum a few days ago. It’s hard to say how Asik’s absence will impact tonight’s game. The Pelicans already beat the Kings without him, but Eric Gordon really hurt the Kings last time out. The Pelicans had depth issues already, so I would expect Gordon’s injury to hurt them in more places than one. It’s a shame, really. The Pelicans are an extremely fun team to watch, so I hope they can remain in the playoff hunt while their players get healthy. I want to see Anthony Davis in the playoffs.

What To Watch For:

Familiarity: When you play a team twice in the same week (or so), it is very difficult to win both of those games. The winning team can fall back on the same, or similar strategy they used to win the first time, while the other knows exactly what they need to correct in order to achieve a different result. I thought it was pretty clear where the Kings struggled last time, which brings me to my next point.

Ryan Anderson: Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins more or less cancelled each other out. Jrue Holiday and Darren Collision did the same. Where the Pelicans really took advantage of the Kings was at shooting guard with Eric Gordon, and off the bench with Ryan Anderson. Gordon is out, so that is one less thing the Kings have to worry about, but Ryan Anderson is going to be a major problem for the Kings tonight if they leave him as open as they did last time. Michael Malone tried a few different players on him, and one-by-one they all fell down. I would probably go with Omri Casspi, personally, but I’m very interested to see how Malone defends Ryan Anderson tonight.

Pride: I think you’d have to give Anthony Davis a slight edge over DeMarcus Cousins last game. While they were statistically similar, The Pelicans won on the Kings home floor, and despite the close final score, the Pelicans controlled that game in the second half. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most self-aware players I can remember. If he makes a mistake, he might not talk about it, or he might act defensive to the media, but he knows he did it. You can say the same about his play. He knows Davis and the Pelicans got him last time, so I’m expecting a huge game from Cousins tonight. How fun would a 7-game series between these two teams be?

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  • The Line: The Pelicans are 3.5-point favorites tonight at home. This is a fairly predictable line, but (surprise, surprise) I like the Kings tonight. They are well rested. They have the revenge factor on their side. The Pelicans are definitely going to be without Eric Gordon, and Omer Asik will probably sit this one out as well. If the Kings are at full strength (Rudy Gay, Darren Collison, and Ramon Sessions are all questionable), than I’m taking the Kings.

    Final Thoughts: The Kings really need a win in New Orleans tonight. The rest of November is brutal (Rockets, Spurs, and Grizzlies), and a loss tonight would make it very difficult for the Kings to finish above .500 for the month. And that doesn’t really matter. A month (in a basketball schedule sense) is just an arbitrary selection of games, but it’s an easy way to break the season into sections, and it would be a good milestone for Sacramento. When was the last time they finished a complete month at or above .500?