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Kings hoping to find home success vs. Magic
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The season can't end fast enough for the Sacramento Kings and the Orlando Magic, two teams that essentially acknowledged right away they'd be doing plenty of losing this season and have not disappointed.
The race for the better draft pick continues for both teams Friday night, when they square off at the Golden 1 Center.
The place has proven to be anything but hospitable for the tenants --- Sacramento's 10 home wins are the second-fewest in the NBA, ahead of only Phoenix's nine --- and the Magic could use a friendly place after the events Wednesday.
Orlando lost at the Los Angeles Lakers 108-107 after a mistake by the Staples Center timekeeper forced a jump ball and prevented them from having a chance to win the game after overcoming a nine-point lead in the final 90 seconds.
After the mistake, the Magic were "rewarded" with a jump ball that essentially ended the contest.
"It doesn't make any sense," Magic forward Nikola Vucevic told reporters after the game. "That's frustrating when things out of your hands hurt you."
In other words, so much for tanking.
The Magic and Kings each have shown plenty of fight recently despite the constant losing, but on most nights, each team simply is too short of manpower.
The Kings (20-45) have lost nine of 12 overall, and two wins in their past four at home qualifies as a hot spell. Sacramento hasn't won consecutive games in its home building since a three-game run in November that has marked the team's only home winning streak of the season.
A 114-101 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday kept the Kings from getting their second. Sacramento lost guard De'Aaron Fox (14.5 points in 30 minutes per game over his previous six) to lower back stiffness five minutes into the contest, and his status for Friday's contest is questionable.
Center Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain), who scored 21 points in Sacramento's 115-109 win at Orlando on Jan. 23, has missed two consecutive games, and the Kings have not said whether he will return.
If neither play, Sacramento again will lean on guards Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield. Bogdanovic misfired on all six of his shots against New Orleans and went scoreless after a six-game run in which he averaged 17.7 points. Hield scored 11 points in the fourth quarter against the Pelicans, sparking a late rally.
"Same mentality the whole time," Hield told the Sacramento Bee. "Keep shooting."
The Magic (20-45) are tied with Atlanta for the worst record in the Eastern Conference and their unfortunate sequence of events against Los Angeles gave them nine losses in 11 games.
It may also have cost them swingman Evan Fournier, their second-leading scorer at 17.8 points per game. Fournier underwent an MRI on Thursday and it determined he has a sprained MCL in his left knee, an injury that will keep him out of Friday's game.
"I tried to play on it for a few minutes, but I knew it wasn't right," Fournier told the Orlando Sentinel after the game. "So, we'll see."
The return of rookie forward Jonathan Isaac qualifies as some recent good news for Orlando. Isaac, the league's sixth overall pick in last June's draft, missed two months with a severely sprained ankle. Isaac has averaged 16 minutes and grabbed 12 rebounds since his return. But has made only two of his 10 shots while tallying just five points.
"I'm not worried about him at all," Magic coach Frank Vogel told the Sentinel. "He's going to be fine. He knows it's going to take time."
Updated March 8, 2018