The Sacramento Kings are getting better results of late, and they continue to lean on their veterans in doing so. The Kings will try to build off perhaps their best victory of the season when they host the Phoenix Suns on Friday in the second of six straight home games.
Behind 24 points from 40-year-old Vince Carter, Sacramento rolled to a 109-95 triumph over Eastern Conference heavyweight Cleveland on Wednesday, improving to 9-11 since its 3-11 start. “The shot was falling tonight but it was our ball movement, and the ball found the open guy,” Carter told reporters. “It just made it fun to watch. If we play that way we could be a pretty good basketball team.” The Suns have made strides as well and welcomed back leading scorer Devin Booker for Tuesday’s 99-97 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at home. Booker had 20 of his 32 points in the first half and Tyson Chandler’s alley-oop slam in the final second lifted Phoenix to its fourth win in the last six games.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), NBCSN California (Sacramento)
ABOUT THE SUNS (13-23): Chandler’s dramatic finish grabbed most of the headlines, but Booker’s seamless return from an adductor strain is the most important development in the desert. “This is better than Christmas for me,” Booker told reporters. “Getting a chance to be back out on the floor, playing with my brothers and coming out with a close win makes it that much better.” The 21-year-old missed a seven-point loss at Sacramento earlier this month but produced 22 points, five assists and four rebounds in a 117-115 win over the Kings at home on Oct. 23.
ABOUT THE KINGS (12-22): While Booker is the go-to guy nearly every night for Phoenix, Sacramento still gets much of its production from its older players, and veterans Zach Randolph and George Hill teamed with Carter in Wednesday’s win. Randolph (14 points) and Hill (10) were the only starters for the Kings to score in double figures and Randolph continues to lead the team in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (6.9). Those two combined for 35 points while Carter sat in the win over the Suns on Dec. 12.
1. Booker averages 27.9 points on 48.7 percent shooting on the road, compared to 21.8 on 42 percent at home.
2. Kings C Willie Cauley-Stein is averaging 18.7 points on 61.9 percent shooting and nine rebounds over the last three games.
3. The teams have split 78 all-time meetings in Sacramento.
PREDICTION: Kings 104, Suns 100