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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 16th (All times eastern)

Sacramento Kings (7-18) at Portland Trail Blazers (15-10), 10:00 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A change at the top paid immediate dividends for the Sacramento Kings on Monday and the team will attempt to keep moving in the right direction tonight when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers.

Francisco Garcia scored 21 points, one of eight Kings in double figures, and Sacramento dispatched the hapless Minnesota Timberwolves in a 118-103 rout at ARCO Arena, just hours after the team made a coaching change.

The Kings fired head coach Reggie Theus earlier in the day after a 6-18 start and replaced him on an interim basis with assistant Kenny Natt. Theus was the sixth NBA coach to be fired this season.

"It feels great. It's been a long day - it's been a very long day," Natt said after his debut. "Obviously I had an opportunity to get the guys and discuss what we had to go through today and get them focused on coming out and playing the way that we did to start up the game. That's one of the keys and I'm hoping that we can just continue to play hard."

John Salmons netted 17 and Spencer Hawes 15 while grabbing 10 boards for the Kings in the win.

"He (Kenny Natt) is from the old school and was with (Jerry) Sloan for a while. So what he preaches is more old school type of basketball, which is more of my style," said Salmons. "Everyone knows how much experience he has. So I think that everyone respects what he says. They know all of the big games that he has been through."

Sacramento had lost 10 of 11 games under Theus before the axe fell Monday and the team improved to just 5-9 at home with the win.

The Blazers, meanwhile, will be resuming a three-game homestand.

Portland dropped the opener of its residency in double overtime on Friday when Los Angeles' Baron Davis buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to a first overtime and netted seven of his 27 points over the two extra sessions as the Clippers outlasted Portland, 120-112, from the Rose Garden.

Brandon Roy poured in 38 points and handed out nine assists for the Trail Blazers, who lost for the third straight game. Portland started the skid with its first home loss of the season on Tuesday to Orlando and dropped to 7-2 at home on Friday.

Greg Oden had 15 points and as many rebounds while LaMarcus Aldridge netted 22 points in defeat.

The Blazers have already beaten the Kings, who are just 2-9 on the road, twice this season after losing their final three games with Sacramento last year.

12/16 10:19:26 ET


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