Kings at Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have been rolling over the last three weeks and will try to maintain their high level of play Friday night when they host the Sacramento Kings. Following a six-point home loss to Brooklyn on Dec. 12, Toronto had dropped six straight and sported a woeful 4-19 record. Two nights later, the Raptors coasted to a 21-point win over the Dallas Mavericks, triggering a run of eight wins in nine games and a six-game home winning streak. The latest victory was Wednesday's 102-79 rout over Portland as rookie Terrence Ross hit six 3-pointers and scored 26 points.
One of Sacramento's 12 wins was a 107-100 home triumph over Toronto on Dec. 5. The Kings dropped five of their next seven after beating the Raptors but have rebounded with five wins in their last eight games, including Wednesday's 97-94 win in Cleveland as Jason Thompson scored 19 points and DeMarcus Cousins added 18. The Kings snapped a six-game road losing streak despite playing without Tyreke Evans (sore left knee) and Marcus Thornton (sprained left ankle).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Comcast Sportsnet California (Sacramento), TSN (Toronto)
ABOUT THE KINGS (12-20): Evans will sit out Friday, marking the 15th game that he will miss since initially suffering the injury Nov. 27 against Minnesota. Evans received a second opinion on the knee Wednesday in Los Angeles and is aiming to return Monday versus Memphis. Overall, the Kings have split the 14 games Evans has missed. Cousins has 23 of his 71 assists over his last four games and has averaged 5.8 assists since returning from a two-game suspension for arguing with coach Keith Smart. "I keep saying I feel like when this team shares the ball, we're hard to beat," Cousins said. "And if I've got to take away from my shots just to get everyone else going in the spirit of sharing the ball, I'll do that."
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (12-20): Improved ball movement has been a significant factor in Toronto's best stretch. The Raptors are averaging 25.8 assists and 10.1 turnovers in their last 10 games, which ranks second and first in the league since Dec. 12. Perhaps the biggest display of the fluid ball movement Wednesday came in the performances of guards Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry. The duo combined for 22 assists without scoring a point and while combining to take just three shots. Overall, Toronto had 34 assists on 41 baskets, has at least 30 assists in consecutive games for the first time since March 31-April 3, 2010, and will be looking to do so in three straight games for the first time in team history.“We were just making the easy plays,” Calderon said. “Today it was all the guys making those plays, and I’m cool with that.”
1. Sacramento has not won consecutive road games since winning three straight from March 23-27, 2011.
2. In the last 10 games, Toronto's bench has averaged 48.1 points.
3. The Raptors have allowed 90.4 points per game in the last nine.