Kings look to turn the tide at home vs. slumping Wizards

NBA Basketball

The Sacramento Kings get an opportunity to demonstrate whether a team meeting will have a positive impact when they open a three-game homestand against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

When last seen at home, the Kings won two in a row, giving them a three-game streak headed out on the road to Charlotte, Cleveland and Toronto.

Those games resulted in losses by increasing amounts: 124-123 to the Hornets, 117-103 to the Cavaliers and 124-101 to the Raptors.

After the latter, Kings players vented their frustrations among themselves in a team meeting.

“We’re not playing together,” veteran Harrison Barnes said. “That’s what it boils down to. As a group, we discussed it.”

Interim coach Alvin Gentry attempted to deflect criticism from his players, who have allowed 120 or more points in seven of their last 12 games.

“When you go out and play with that kind of effort, it’s ridiculous,” Gentry said of the Toronto game. “I’ve got to find the combination of people; it’s up to me. I’m supposed to have them prepared and ready to go, especially after the debacle in Cleveland. They weren’t. I’m going to take a lot of the responsibility on that.”

The Kings will be seeing the Wizards for the first time this season. The teams split games last year, each winning on the other’s court.

De’Aaron Fox and Bradley Beal put on an entertaining duel in the Washington win at Sacramento last April. Fox went for a game-high 33 points, but Beal had 31 and the better supporting cast, which at the time included Russell Westbrook (25 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists).

The Wizards offer a new look this season, with Kyle Kuzma (13.4 points) and Spencer Dinwiddie (13.1) teaming with Beal, who remains one of the league’s top scorers at 22.4 points per game.

Beal was held to 21 and 19 points as the Wizards lost their last two games, at home against Utah and at Denver to begin a six-game trip.

Dinwiddie wasn’t much of a factor (12 and nine points) in the losses, while Kuzma has been unable to play because of COVID-19 reasons.

The Wizards have yet to rule Kuzma out of the Sacramento game.

Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. hopes a late run that made Monday’s 113-107 loss at Denver competitive can carry over to Sacramento.

The key to the turnaround, he said, was Beal’s season-best 10 assists on a night when he was harassed into 8-for-19 shooting.

“It’s frustrating because you’re trying to get Brad going, but once again, teams are going to try to put pressure on him,” Unseld said. “They’re going to be up and be aggressive and make him a facilitator. He did that most of the game and we finally got the payoff. Once that happens, it finally starts to loosen up.”

The Wizards, who opened the season with six wins in their first 11 road games, have dropped four of their last five away from home.

–Field Level Media

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