);
Oklahoma City Thunder

Friday Game Previews: Kings begin road trip in Charlotte; OKC Thunder host the Lakers

Sacramento Kings vs Charlotte Hornets; Los Angeles Lakers vs Oklahoma City Thunder
Sacramento Kings vs Charlotte Hornets; Los Angeles Lakers vs Oklahoma City Thunder (Getty Images)

Sacramento Kings (23-21) vs Charlotte Hornets (20-23)

Where to Watch

Date: Friday, Jan. 18

Time: 5:30 AM IST

TV: Sony Ten 1

Location: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC

Game Preview

After playing seven of their last eight games at home at the Golden 1 Center, the young Sacramento Kings are all set to take-off for a monster six-game Eastern Conference road trip lasting the next ten days.

The Kings' young movement is finally bearing fruit.

Their 23-21 record marks this campaign as the first time the franchise has a record of .500 or above through 44 games since the 2004-05 season. De'Aaron Fox, playing like the league's best sophomore, combined with the improved play of Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein has spurred the franchise along to its start in over a decade.

Going by the numbers, Sacramento is easily the most improved team this season. Just have a look:

Last season 2018-19 season
Points per game 98.8 (30th) 114.7 (6th)
Field goal % 45.0% (22nd) 47.0 (9th)
Fast Break Points 10.4 (20th) 22.0 (1st)
Points in the Paint 43.5 (22nd) 51.7 (7th)
Points off turnovers 15.2 (24th) 21.1 (1st)
Pace 95.59 (30th) 104.59 (2nd)

The numbers speak for themselves.

Now, let's move on to the Charlotte Hornets. Other than a 108-93 win in San Antonio, the Hornets had a pretty disappointing six-game Western Conference road trip. Their lone other win was in Phoenix with the margin of victory of six points but their four losses on the trip (Portland, Denver, LA Clippers, and Sacramento) by an average margin of 17.5 points.

The Hornets, by the numbers, are the perfect middle of the pack team. Their offense ranks 12th in the league with a rating of 110.2 but their defense ranks in the bottom half at 19th with a rating of 110. All through the season, their record has also hovered around the .500 mark.

Kemba Walker has been great so far this season and he could be an All-Star for the host city given his career-high season average of 25.2 points.

Game Notes

  • The Charlotte Hornets are currently placed at the 8th spot in the East, with a home record of 14-8.
  • In the West, the Sacramento Kings are placed at 10th with a road record of 9-11.
  • The Hornets are set to be without Cody Zeller (Hand).
  • On the other hand, the Kings seem to have no injuries to report.

Last Time They Played

Date: Jan. 13, 2018

Score: Hornets 97-104 Kings

Hornets: Kemba Walker - 31 points and 4 assists on 45.8% shooting

Kings: De'Aaron Fox - 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.


Los Angeles Lakers (23-21) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (26-17)

Where to Watch

Date: Friday, Jan. 18

Time: 8:00 AM IST

TV: Sony Ten 1

Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

Game Preview

Both teams could use a win right now.

Without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo in the past 11 games, the Lakers are 4-7 with the worst offensive rating in the league during this span - 100.9. They did their win their last game, which was against the Chicago Bulls, but they barely scraped through the win in the final few minutes.

On the other hand, it has been an odd couple of weeks for the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have slipped from a strong 25-13 record, where they were just one game behind the Denver Nuggets for the top seed in the West, to a record of 26-17, currently the third seed and four games behind the top-seeded Golden State Warriors.

In the past five games, the Thunder have lost four, all by a combined margin of 43 points including a 7-point double overtime defeat in San Antonio.

Roster for roster, the Lakers will have a tough time registering a win in Oklahoma City given the Thunder's league-best defense - 103.6.

Westbrook also leads the league in triple-doubles (12) by averaging 21.7 points (lowest since 2010), 10.7 rebounds, and 10.6 assists. The team is playing so well despite Westbrook averaging 4.6 turnovers per game (2nd in the league), shooting 42.3% from the field (lowest since 2010) and making a career-low 62.3% from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, George is having a career-year, averaging career-highs in points (26.6), rebounds (8.1), and steals (2.3).

Game Notes

  • Currently placed 4th in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 14-6 at home at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
  • Meanwhile, the LeBron-less Los Angeles Lakers are 9-12 in their 21 previous road games.
  • The Thunder will surely miss Andre Roberson (Kneecap) while three others are said to be game-time decisions - Nerlens Noel (Concussion), Alex Abrines (Personal), and Donte Grantham (Ankle).
  • On the other hand, the Lakers will miss two key veterans in LeBron James (Groin) and Rajon Rondo (Hand).

Last Time They Played

Date: Jan. 3, 2018

Score: Thunder 107-100 Lakers

Thunder: Paul George - 37 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals on 51.7% shooting

Lakers: Brandon Ingram - 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists.

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