Surprising Kings pay visit to Hawks

By The Sports Xchange
De'Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings take on the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/abcd5445853276f53bed920435c80bf6/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
De'Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings take on the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

The youthful Sacramento Kings will be going for their fifth straight win on Thursday when they visit the even-younger Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.

The Kings (5-3) rolled over the Orlando Magic 107-99 for their fourth straight victory on Tuesday, the last two coming on the four-day East Coast road trip. Atlanta (2-5) has dropped three straight games, including a 136-114 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, since posting back-to-back victories.


Sacramento will be trying to break an 11-game road losing streak to the Hawks. The Kings haven't won in Atlanta since 2006. The two clubs split their two-game series last season.

The Kings have only four players with four-plus years of experience on their roster. Only center Kosa Koufos and forward Zach Randolph have 10 or more years in the league. Sacramento is the eighth youngest team with an average age of 25.7, while having the sixth-oldest player in the league in Randolph.


The Hawks have 10 players with two or fewer years of NBA experience. The roster is the fourth-least experienced in the NBA with an average of 3.65 years. That number drops to 2.63 years with the exclusion of 20-year veteran Vince Carter.

The Kings are getting balanced scoring across the board, with five players averaging double figures.

The leading score is guard Buddy Hield (18.9 points), who had a team-high 25 points in Tuesday's win over Orlando. He has scored at least 20 points in each of the last four games. Hield also averages 6.1 rebounds.

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The other top scorers are guard De'Aaron Fox (17.5 points, 6.9 assists), forward Willie Cauley-Stein (17.5 points, nine rebounds) and Nemanja Bjelica (15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds). First-round draft pick Marvin Bagley averages 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Fox's status with a sore back was not known Tuesday until just prior to the tip. Fox did not score in the first half, but put up 14 in the second half.

"I felt like I had to push through it," he said. "I felt like I had a great first half, a forgettable first half."


The Kings will also get veteran forward Iman Shumpert back against the Hawks. He was given the night off on Tuesday. It will be a homecoming for Shumpert, who played at Georgia Tech.

The Hawks have struggled with consistency and have been prone to putting together strings of turnovers. They gave it away 11 times in the third quarter against the Cavaliers, which allowed Cleveland to take control of the game and cruise to a win.

"We had a really good first half and then they made adjustments," Atlanta rookie Trae Young said. "We weren't ready to play and couldn't finish it out."

Young, a first-round pick from Oklahoma, leads the team in scoring (19.1) and assists (6.6). The Hawks have gotten consistent scoring from forward Taurean Prince (16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds) and guard Kent Bazemore (15.0 points, 4.9 rebounds).

Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the development of Alex Len, the burly sixth-year veteran from Maryland. Len had a season-high 22 points against the Cavs with nine rebounds and two blocks.

Atlanta is still awaiting the return of power forward John Collins. He is not expected back for at least two weeks as he works through an knee injury that has caused him to miss the first seven games.


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