When the Sacramento Kings find the win column, it’s a good bet that their veteran players are the ones leading the charge. Zach Randolph, George Hill and company will try to lead their young squad to a third straight win when the Kings host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
Sacramento brought in Randolph, 36, and Hill, 31, in the offseason to support a roster that features 11 players 25 or younger, but it turns out the veterans are the ones that could use some support. Randolph leads the team in scoring (15.9 points), rebounding (seven) and ranks second in minutes (26) behind only Hill (26.4), and it was Randolph’s combined 48 points on 20-of-30 shooting at Philadelphia and Brooklyn that sent the Kings home with a 2-2 road trip. Randolph will battle on Saturday against fellow veteran LaMarcus Aldridge, who averages 21.9 points but matched a season low with 11 in Thursday’s 100-89 loss at Utah. That setback snapped a three-game winning streak for the Spurs, who are 7-9 on the road and will be finishing off a three-game trip at Sacramento.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, KENS (San Antonio), NBCS California (Sacramento)
ABOUT THE SPURS (22-11): The bright spot in Thursday’s loss was the continued progression of small forward Kawhi Leonard, who played a season-high 20 minutes and collected 10 points and five rebounds. The All-Star did not make his season debut until Dec. 12 after battling quad tendinopathy and is still not playing back-to-backs, but he is shooting 50 percent from the floor in four games and will get two days off after Saturday as San Antonio sits out the Christmas Day games this season. Tony Parker (quad) is making positive strides in his return as well and logged a season-high 26 minutes on Thursday.
ABOUT THE KINGS (11-20): While Randolph has been a consistent performer since the start of the season, Hill is only recently joining him as an offensive threat. The veteran point guard, who was limited to 49 games with Utah last season while dealing with injuries, averaged 8.8 points on 43.6 percent shooting in November before raising those numbers to 13.3 points on 56.9 percent in eight games this month. Hill is serving as a mentor for 19-year-old rookie De‘Aaron Fox, who scored in single digits in each of his last four games and is battling a quad injury.
1. Spurs C Pau Gasol (groin) and SG Danny Green (groin) both sat out Thursday and are day-to-day.
2. Randolph became the 20th player in NBA history with at least 18,000 points and 10,000 rebounds when he grabbed his 10,000th board in the first quarter on Wednesday.
3. Leonard averaged 20.7 points in three games against the Kings last season - his lowest mark against any opponent in 2016-17.
PREDICTION: Spurs 102, Kings 96