Opening Statements: Wizards vs Kings, Game 26 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Kings, Game 26

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Updated: December 21, 2015

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Teams: Wizards vs Kings
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 2.5 points.


When following the Washington Wizards, memories of games against Eastern Conference teams mesh together, but contests against the Western Conference teams stand out. The Sacramento Kings are no exception. When I think of Kings-Wiz matchups, several occurrences immediately come to mind:

During the John Wall era, the top storyline of this match-up has always been former college teammates and now NBA All-Stars, Wall and Cousins, facing off. The ex-Kentucky bros are still good friends. Their old Wildcats coach, John Calipari, has shown up in D.C. to watch them. With the Kings center usually feuding with a coach and under constant trade speculation, his close relationship with Wall naturally leads many to find ways, via ESPN’s Trade Machine, for Cousins to be moved to Washington. The Kings, however, have almost always refused to put Cousins on the trade block.

The Wizards are a model organization compared to the dysfunction in Sacramento. The Kings are perpetually in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Maloof brothers, previous owners, were an embarrassment and the franchise was on brink of relocating to Anaheim. Even when the city put up funds to keep the team, it ended up being somewhat of a PR disaster due to Mayor Kevin Johnson, who’s been linked to sexual abuse allegations. The Kings continually fire coaches, make poor trades, miss on lottery picks, and the new owner, Vivek Ranadive, admitted to already committing mistakes.

They fired a coach, Mike Malone, against the wishes of their franchise player, and his replacement, George Karl, wanted to jettison the big man immediately. Then, without settling the situation in the summer, Cousins cussed out Karl in front of the entire team. Recently, the hateful words of point guard Rajon Rondo toward NBA referee Bill Kennedy created a national stir, and Rondo’s initial response was pathetic.

As for the actual basketball part, the Kings are currently playing decent ball. After starting the season 1-7, Sacramento has a record of 10-9. They have won four out of their last five games. Rondo leads the league in assists, Cousins continues to be a beast on the block, Baltimore native Rudy Gay can still fill it up, and Omri Casspi’s insertion into the starting lineup has been a spark. Caspi’s stretch 4 ability fits more into the style Karl wants to play. The veteran coach recently had a rather direct—if peculiar—way to explain his team: “I’ve got a crazy team, and I’m kind of crazy.”

While Boogie and Wall are the main attractions, the matchup between John and another ex-Wildcat, Rondo, might determine the outcome. Karl addressed the sometimes rocky relationship with his point guard:

“I love him. It’s going to be a love, anger, hate, complaining (kind of relationship), but he’s a high basketball IQ guy. Right now he’s our motor, he makes us go, he makes us go in a good way. I think he enjoys my philosophies a little bit, not 100 percent in agreement. I’ve always had wrestling matches with most of my point guards and this is not a bad wrestling match but we do have our wrestling match going on.”

The key to this evening’s game will be whether Washington’s poor perimeter defense can stop Sacramento’s long-range marksmanship. The Wiz allow opponents to shoot 40.4 percent from 3-point line, dead last in NBA, while the Kings hit on 36.7 percent on 3s, which is fifth in the league.

Sacramento is on a back-to-back after handling the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. Washington’s last game was a home victory over Charlotte on Saturday night. The Kings have not won back-to-back road games in over a year. The Wizards have not been victorious in two straight contests this season since the middle of November. One of those will have to give tonight.

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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.