When: 4:00 p.m. AZ
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
Injuries: Suns - T.J. Warren out (ankle), Devin Booker probable (hamstring), De’Anthony Melton - out (ankle); Kings - None
The struggle bus sputters along as the depleted Suns make a pit stop in Sacramento to face the Kings, who are surprisingly in the mix for a playoff spot as the season approaches the home stretch.
The Suns are coming off a surprisingly strong performance against the Golden State Warriors Friday night, but eventually succumbed in a 117-107 defeat that stretched their streak to 13 straight losses in the process.
If that feels oddly familiar, it’s probably because the Suns have now had streaks of 13 or more straight losses for four consecutive seasons.
That’s right, in each of the last four seasons the Suns have had a losing streak of 13-plus games.
That’s actually four of the five worst losing streaks in franchise history.
In the first 47 seasons of franchise history the Suns only had one losing streak of 13 or more games.
In the last four seasons they have done it four times.
There have only been five other streaks of 13+ losses by the other 29 NBA teams combined over the last four seasons.
The Suns are a very bad basketball team.
Record setting futility aside, the Suns might have been able to pull off the upset against the Warriors if they had suited up more than five NBA caliber rotation players.
Deandre Ayton, Richaun Holmes, Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre Jr. were forced to try to do it all themselves, as the other four Suns who played managed just 11 points on 3-for-25 shooting.
The problem of only having five NBA players is compounded when two of them are centers and three of them are small forwards.
That means Phoenix basically doesn’t have NBA players at three of the five traditional positions.
Oubre tied Klay Thompson for a game-high with 25 points while also adding 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals. He had a couple emphatic dunks along with his typical celebratory flair. Oubre Jr. has been a tough, aggressive, emotional force for the Suns since they accidentally acquired him this season.
Ayton was more involved in the offense, too, tying a career-high with 20 field goal attempts on his way to a 23-point, 12-rebound performance.
Jackson broke his streak of three straight games scoring at least 25 points, finishing with 19, but shook off a poor shooting first half and still played a quality game. He is coming off possibly the best four game stretch of his young career.
Bridges hit four three pointers and matched Jackson’s 19 points, missing his season-high by just one point. Four of Bridges six highest scoring games on the season have come in the past two weeks.
Tyler Johnson went 1-for-9 from the field and finished with five points and five fouls in his debut for the Suns.
The Kings were a little more aggressive than the Suns at the trade deadline, dealing second year forward Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph to the Dallas Mavericks for Harrison Barnes. The 26-year-old Barnes is averaging 17.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game this season.
Barnes was inserted directly into the Kings starting lineup and recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in a 102-96 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday night.
De’Aaron Fox (17.2 points and 7.1 assists per game) and Buddy Hield (20.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game) highlight a solid roster for the Kings.
Hield, the main returning piece in the DeMarcus Cousins trade, has become one of the best shooters in the NBA, making 45.5 percent of his three point shots (third best in the league) on 7.6 attempts per game.
Nemanja Bjelica also shoots 42.4 percent from three for Sacramento, who are fourth best in the league at 38 percent.
The Kings are finishing up a season-long six game home stand. They have won four of the first five games.
Sacramento and Phoenix have played twice this season, splitting a pair of games in Phoenix. The Kings won the first game on Dec. 4 by a score of 122-105 and then Phoenix won the second on Jan. 8, 115-111.
The Kings outscored the Suns 36-9 in the first quarter of the first game. They actually led by 32 after three quarters before the Suns whittled the lead down to 17 in garbage time. Melton scored a career-high 21 points in the loss.
Phoenix dug themselves a hole in the second contest as well, trailing by 19 at halftime, but were able to claw back to a narrow victory. Oubre Jr. led all scorers with 26 points.
Booker missed both games due to an assortment of injuries.
Tonight’s game against the Kings starts a five-game road trip for the Suns that traverses the All-Star break.
Following this game Phoenix plays the Los Angeles Clippers in their last game prior to the week-plus break. If they lose against the Kings and Clippers, they will be going for a franchise worst streak of 16 straight losses in their first game back against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The fourth and final game of the season series between Phoenix and Sacramento will be at The Golden 1 Center on Mar. 23.