Hawks, Kings clash in California's capital
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Hawks complete a four-game, West-Coast trip on Friday night when they visit the Sacramento Kings at the Sleep Train Arena.
The Hawks have gone 1-2 on this sojourn to the other coast. They lost Wednesday night to the Golden State Warriors, 92-88, without star big man Al Horford, who missed the game with a stomach illness.
Lou Williams, the Hawks' fourth-leading scorer, posted nine of his 18 points Wednesday in the final 1:13, but it wasn't quite enough. Atlanta lost its third in the last four games.
"When you have guys go down that bring that much to the table it's tough," said Williams. "All the other guys stepped up and we had a chance to win, but this was just one of those games that came down to two or three plays that went the other way."
Horford is listed as "day-to-day" and so is reserve point guard Devin Harris, who also missed the game against the Warriors with an illness.
The Hawks lead the NBA in forcing turnovers (18.6 ppg) and will be happy to head home after the tilt with the Kings. They play seven of their next eight in Atlanta.
The Kings, who have lost three straight, will get their best player back on Wednesday. DeMarcus Cousins served his two-game suspension for confronting San Antonio Spurs announcer Sean Elliot in a hostile manner.
Cousins isn't the only player returning to the Kings' lineup. Isaiah Thomas missed Tuesday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers for personal reasons and reserve Francisco Garcia was also absent with the flu.
Head coach Keith Smart was just excited to get some bodies back.
"It was a regular basketball team again, and we had a chance to do some great work today - excellent film work," Smart said after Thursday's practice. "I'm so excited, I'm out of breath."
Smart emphasized defense in the preseason and the results have been solid. They ranked fifth in the NBA in forcing turnovers and sixth in steals. The Kings still rank in the bottom-third of the league in opposition scoring, but the offense has been shaky.
Sacramento is 25th in the NBA in scoring, despite five players averaging double-figures. The bench has been productive, led by Marcs Thornton (14.5 ppg) and even Jimmer Fredette (8.0 ppg). Fredette is shooting a blistering 57 percent from the floor.
Atlanta has owned this matchup in recent history, winning eight straight and nine of the last 10. The Hawks have won four in a row in Sacramento after losing the previous eight in California's capital city.
11/16 10:37:36 ET