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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns Travel to Sacramento to Battle the Sacramento Kings

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In the first leg of a back-to-back mini-series against the Sacramento Kings, the Phoenix Suns travel to Sactown in hopes to breaking a two-game slide and getting back to their anti-tanking ways.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns (5-4) will take on familiar division foes, the Sacramento Kings (2-7) on the road tonight in the first game of a back-to-back home-and-away series. Both teams will duke it out again tomorrow night in Phoenix.

Who: Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings

What: An NBA regular season game (the 10th game for both teams)

Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA

When: 8:00PM AZ Time (7PM PST/10 PM ET), November 19, 2013

Why: Pacific division battle!

The Suns will look to recover from last week's two heartbreaking losses against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Brooklyn Nets, while the Kings will also be trying to break their own two-game losing streak. Sacramento's two wins have come against the Denver Nuggets and the Brooklyn Nets.

The Opponent: Shaqramento Kings

The Kings are looking to move past the Maloof Brothers era and their new ownership (which includes minority owner Shaquille O'Neal) is determined to do everything it can to rebuild this team back to relevancy. After hiring renowned Assistant Mike Malone to be the franchise's new Head Coach, Sacramento displayed its commitment to the talented by volatile center Demarcus Cousins by signing Boogie to a 4-year, $62 million extension this summer, Sacramento has displayed its commitment to Boogie. DMC is averaging a career-high 21.2 points on 47.5% shooting from the field (also a career-best) to go with 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. Also of note: he is yet to be ejected from a game this year (his technical foul tally is currently at 2).

The second-best player for the Kings this season has been 5'9" Isiah Thomas, who was demoted to a bench role after the team acquired point guard Greivis Vasquez from the Hornicans this offseason. Thomas has been fantastic as the Kings' super-sub, averaging 17.8 points on 45.1 FG% and 46.9% 3PT% to go with 4.9 assists per game.

The Kings team as a whole, however, has shot the ball less than ideally through the first 9 games of the season. The team's 41.8 FG% and 31.8 3PT% are in the bottom five among the league's teams. Sacramento also doesn't rebound the ball well, averaging just 39.4 caroms a game - good for third-worst in the league. Bad shooting percentages in tandem with subpar rebounding is not a recipe for success, and the Kings' 2-7 record will attest to that.

Key Match-ups

  • Demarcus Cousins vs. Miles Plumlee: Plumlee has been great for the Suns through nine games and is among the 10 best big men in the league in terms of paint defense. However, after a tough night against Brook Lopez on Friday, he'll have his hands full once again with Cousins, who played very well against Phoenix (and Marcin Gortat, in particular) in 4 games last season.
  • Battle of the Point Guards: The Suns' should have an advantage with an Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic duo against Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas, but it will be an interesting mathcup nonetheless, especially with the way Thomas has been playing. Vasquez is no slouch himself - last season, he lit up the Suns in to the tune of 18 points and 11 assists on 67% shooting (averages over three games).
  • Battle of the Super-sub: Markieff Morris has come back down to earth in the last two games after his amazing "Player of the Week" stretch, and it's no coincidence that the Suns have barely lost both games. The Suns could really use some firepower off the bench from Kieff to combat Isaiah Thomas's production for Sacramento.
  • Battle of the Rookie Shooting Guards: Ben McLemore, picked #7 overall by Sacramento in the 2013 draft, started last game for the Kings. He's likely to play more minutes than the Suns' own rookie shooting guard, Archie GODwin, but it will be interesting to compare their production levels tonight, especially if they match up against each other at any point.

Stay tuned for the game thread an hour before tip-off!