Suns, Kings still looking to get on track

NBA Basketball
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Two teams looking to reverse recent skids that have been compounded by health issues will meet when the Sacramento Kings play host to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

The Suns have lost eight straight and 13 of 16 after a 105-96 road defeat to the Golden State Warriors on Friday, when they committed 27 turnovers and failed to hold a 13-point lead. They were outscored 39-18 in the fourth quarter.

“That’s an awful amount of turnovers, and we just didn’t play the right way,” said Suns coach Monty Williams, whose team had not committed more than 20 turnovers in a game this season.

“Even though we had the lead throughout the game, we just threw the ball all over the place. That is directly on me.”

Sacramento lost its fifth straight game and sixth in seven on Thursday, a 105-104 double-overtime defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves that not only cost them two starters but also included some postgame drama when leading scorer Buddy Hield criticized his recent late-game usage.

“Seems like we’re all over the place,” Hield told reporters after playing only four minutes in the fourth quarter against Minnesota. “Trust issues going on, I guess. They stop believing in players.

“I just feel like I’m one of the better players on the team. I should be in there in the fourth quarter, trying to help my team win, regardless. That’s why I’m here, right?”

Hield, who did not play in the fourth quarter of a 113-104 loss to the Houston Rockets on Monday, signed a four-year contract extension at the end of training camp that could be worth as much as $106 million.

He is averaging 20.2 points a game while shooting a career-low 41.1 percent from the field. In the past four games, Hield has made 15 of 65 field-goal attempts (23.1 percent) and is 7 of 39 (17.9 percent) from 3-point range.

On Saturday, the Kings will be without Marvin Bagley III and likely without point guard De’Aaron Fox. Bagley left the Minnesota game in the third quarter with an apparent left foot injury and was to see a foot specialist. Fox played only two minutes Thursday before missing the rest of the game with back spasms. He is listed as day-to-day.

The Kings have seen this before. Fox has missed 17 games with an ankle injury and Bagley has missed 22 with a broken right thumb sustained late in a season-opening, 124-95 loss to the Suns in Phoenix, when he had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

“We have to be better,” said Kings coach Luke Walton, whose team will complete a three-game homestand against the Suns.

Suns center Deandre Ayton has missed the past four games with a sprained ankle, and his status was unknown. Ayton had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the season opener against the Kings but he has played only one game since. After serving a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA/NBPA drug policy, he sustained the ankle injury in his first game back.

The Suns and Kings have split the first two games of the four-game season series. Sacramento rebounded from the opening-night blowout with a 120-116 home victory on Nov. 19, when Bogdan Bogdanovic set career highs with 31 points and seven 3-pointers. Phoenix scored 70 points in the second half of each game.

The Suns had two streaks broken in the loss to the Warriors, the opener of a four-game road trip. They were 7 of 33 from 3-point range, their first game this season with fewer than eight 3-pointers. Devin Booker had 34 points against Golden State, going 13 of 24 from the field and 1 of 6 from long distance.

Phoenix had 22 assists against the Warriors after having 25-plus in each of their previous 15 games, the franchise’s longest streak since 1987-88.

–Field Level Media

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