Preview: Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This little fella is fighting a bigger fight, the one that keeps his team in Sacramento, but the basic principle still exists. Each team is coming into this game looking to win today while exploring the big picture with their young roster members.

Read into it as you may, but the Phoenix Suns (23-49) have decided to sit out their best player Goran Dragic for two games that included last nights loss to the Playoff chasing Utah Jazz and tonight against their lottery foe tonight; the Sacramento Kings (26-46).

He is leading the team in scoring, assists, steals, free-throws (made and attempted), and minutes played. Taking him out of the line-up is the basketball equivalent to taking the engine out of a 1971 Ford Pinto.

It is still a Ford Pinto with or without an engine.

The Kings pose some challenges without Dragic in the line-up as they are fueled by Isaiah Thomas and paced inside by DeMarcus Cousins. Those two will look to take advantage of the Suns being without their best two players, who happen to play the same exact position as the Kings duo.

(Recent) History Lesson

Suns 2-1

In the three previous games this season the Suns have won two by double-digits, one on the road and one at home. The Kings took care of business in the last meeting however, a 121 point outburst, which was the fourth most given up this season.

Head-to-Head (past four seasons including Playoffs)

Suns: 105.7 PPG (10 wins)

Kings: 99.7 PPG (4 wins)

Over the previous four seasons the Suns have controlled the series between the divisional rivals. This season has been no different other than the last encounter as the Kings are still trying to find their identity with a young roster and the Suns are muddled in a rebuild.

Head-to-Head (career)

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Suns: 20.3 PPG 10.7 RPG 48.3 FG% (9 games)

Luis Scola vs. Kings: 15.8 PPG 8.5 RPG 52.7 FG% (21 games)

There are only three teams that Cousins averages 20+ PPG and 10+ RPG against. The Suns are one of those teams.

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Kendall Marshall vs. Isaiah Thomas

SG - Wesley Johnson vs. Tyreke Evans

SF - P.J. Tucker vs. John Salmons

PF - Markieff Morris vs. Jason Thompson

C - Luis Scola vs. DeMarcus Cousins

Potential Suns Inactives: Marcin Gortat (Foot)

Potential Kings Inactives: James Johnson (Personal)

Key Match-Up

Kendall Marshall vs. Isaiah Thomas

Marshall was the 13th Overall pick in 2012, an All-American, and a highly regarded point guard prospect on every level he has played. So far, through one season, he under-performed expectations. Thomas was the 60th Overall pick in 2011 and has become a starter with his hard work.

Two opposites if there ever was in a point guard match-up.

It going to be up to Marshall to keep up with the speedster point guard to allow the Suns the chance to win the game.

Interesting Stat: Free-Throws

This season the Kings are the fourth most foul prone team in the NBA while the Suns take the fifth fewest free-throws as a team in the league. Something has to give at the line with these two teams.

Meaningless Stat: 119

That is the combined amount technical fouls called on the Suns and the Kings. Jermaine O'Neal and Cousins are the most volatile of the two.... There is that.

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