Disappointed Heat seek win over Kings
MIAMI -- The Sacramento Kings were "tickled" Tuesday night.
The Miami Heat? They were just ticked ... or at least bewildered.
On Thursday night, the Kings (14-33) will play the Miami Heat (27-20) at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Kings snapped an eight-game losing streak Tuesday, beating the host Orlando Magic 105-99, thanks in large part to Garrett Temple's career-high 34 points.
"Garrett has been a fantastic leader for us, and I couldn't be happier for him," Kings coach Dave Joerger told the media. "He is the ultimate professional. For him to have this type of night, I'm just tickled."
The Heat, meanwhile, have had a couple rough days this week, losing 99-90 at the Houston Rockets on Monday. One day later, at least one Heat standout was highly disappointed to discover that none of Miami's players were named to the All-Star Game.
"We've got All-Stars -- they just didn't get voted in," Heat center Hassan Whiteside told The Miami Herald. "A lot of people look over Miami.
"It's confusing. Is it about stats or is it about winning?"
If it's about winning, the Heat has done a good job of that lately, riding a roster that has overcome numerous injuries.
Point guard Goran Dragic leads the team in scoring (17.3) and assists (4.9) but has missed the past two games because of a knee injury. He is questionable for Thursday.
Whiteside leads the team in rebounds (11.8) and blocks (1.9) while ranking second in scoring (14.7).
Dragic and Whiteside had been Miami's top two All-Star candidates. But shooting guard Dion Waiters (14.3 points) is out for the season due to surgery on his left ankle.
Shooting guard Tyler Johnson, who has missed the past four games, also because of a left ankle injury, could return against Sacramento.
The Kings are hoping to get back forward Zach Randolph (sore left knee), who was held out of Tuesday's win over Orlando. He leads the team in scoring (14.5) and rebounds (6.8).
Rookie point guard De'Aaron Fox, who left the Orlando game because of abdominal tightness, is also questionable. He leads the team in assists (4.3) and is averaging 10.4 points.
Tuesday's Kings win snapped their season-worst eight-game losing streak. Still, the Kings are 3-13 in their past 16 games, and their record ties Orlando for the worst in the NBA.
A win on Tuesday would give the Kings consecutive wins for the first time since Dec. 20.
Joerger would like the Kings to be known as fierce competitors, but the team is last in the league in scoring (98.0) and 19th in points allowed. Further, the Kings are ranked 28th in defensive rating.
Much of those failings can be blamed on youth. The Kings have an impressive young core that includes third-year center Willie Cauley-Stein and the rookie backcourt of Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Rookie backup point guard Frank Mason III, currently injured, was the NCAA's Player of the Year last season at Kansas. Second-year shooting guard Buddy Hield has shown potential. Rookie small forward Justin Jackson, a first-round pick from North Carolina, has struggled but still has plenty of time to show he's got.
Rookie forward Harry Giles, who is out for the season after surgery on both knees, is yet another top, young player on the Kings horizon.
Updated January 24, 2018