Coming off big game, Kings face reeling Hornets


Domantas Sabonis and the Sacramento Kings cleaned up the glass in their last outing.

Sacramento will look for another strong night in the interior when it hosts the struggling Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.

Sabonis collected a season-best 21 rebounds to go with 13 points and 12 assists as the Kings walloped the host Memphis Grizzlies 123-92 on Sunday night.

Sacramento held a whopping 59-34 rebounding edge and had a 58-32 advantage in points in the paint while controlling the lane.

“It was a team effort,” Sabonis said of his club’s rebounding prowess. “I feel we did a good job of contesting their shots.”

The Kings have won back-to-back games and eight of their past 12 as they entertain a Charlotte club that has dropped 11 straight games.

The Hornets trailed by as many as 27 points on Monday night while falling 111-93 to the host Denver Nuggets, the defending NBA champions.

Sacramento’s Malik Monk also stood out with a season-high 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting in 21 minutes off the bench against Memphis. He hit 4 of 5 from 3-point range and contributed five assists and four rebounds without committing a turnover.

“I just felt good,” Monk said. “Shots were going in. I was just able to make them.”

It was the eighth 20-point effort of the season for Monk, who is averaging career-best figures of 14.5 points and 5.2 assists while playing just 24.9 minutes per game.

Another pleasing aspect to second-year Kings coach Mike Brown was the effort on the defensive end. Sacramento limited the Grizzlies to 36.6 percent from the field and 12 of 40 from 3-point range.

“I tell you what, it’s probably the best defensive performance that we’ve had since I’ve been here, from start to finish,” Brown said. “It was really, really fun to watch.”

Charlotte hasn’t won since beating the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 8. The Hornets have lost by double digits seven times during the losing streak, including setbacks by 53, 31 and 21 points.

Charlotte is also 0-4 on a six-game road trip that concludes against the Chicago Bulls on Friday. Overall, the Hornets are 3-13 on the road.

Terry Rozier missed the Denver game due to an illness. He scored a season-best 42 points and matched his season high of eight 3-pointers in Friday’s 133-119 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Rozier’s absence was costly with guard LaMelo Ball (ankle) and forward Gordon Hayward (calf) still out.

“We don’t have a lot of room for error,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said after the loss to Denver. “… We have to play really, really well to have a chance against a team like this.”

Miles Bridges scored 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds against the Nuggets. He has scored 20 or more points in four of the past five games.

Nick Richards and Brandon Miller added 15 points apiece for Charlotte. Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, made just 5 of 17 shots.

With Charlotte short-handed in the backcourt, veteran Ish Smith drew the start and scored a season-high 10 points in 29 minutes. Smith was part of Denver’s title-winning team last season and received his championship ring from the Nuggets prior to the game.

After the game, the 35-year-old Smith was bullish on the Hornets’ future.

“We’ve got to keep learning, keep growing,” Smith said. “I hate that we’ve got to learn and grow through losses, but we’re going to be good. We’re going to push through some things. We’re going to press through some things because that’s what good teams do.”

The teams will meet again Jan. 10 in Charlotte. They split two games last season, with the road team winning each time.

–Field Level Media

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