Washington (23-49) at Sacramento (51-21)

  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Sun Mar 28, 2004
  • TV: CSMA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Sacramento Kings hope the return of Bobby Jackson will help them bounce back from their most lopsided loss of the season when they host the lowly Washington Wizards.

Jackson expects to play for the Kings after missing the last five weeks with a strained muscle in his abdomen, and it couldn’t be at a better time.

Sacramento lost 115-91 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, and has dropped four of its last six.

Jackson, the NBA’s top sixth man last season, also expects the Kings to return to the form they showed before he got injured—before Chris Webber returned from a knee injury 3 1/2 weeks ago. That’s when Sacramento hit its worst slump of the year while trying to integrate its best player into what had been the NBA’s best team.

“We know how good we can be,” Jackson said after feeling no discomfort during a lengthy practice Friday. “We’re not giving that same effort every night. We’re not guarding nobody. That’s one through 10. Everybody is killing us. We know what we’ve got to do. We can’t make excuses. We have to come out and play defense.”

The Kings’ lead in the Western Conference is dwindling. It’s a position they’ve occupied since late November. Sacramento is 8-6 since Webber’s return.

Jackson averaged 13.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game before getting hurt Feb. 20 at Chicago. He has missed 19 games.

Jackson’s absence has been costly, forcing Mike Bibby to play extra minutes and leaving the team without a true point guard when Bibby rested. The Kings also miss Jackson’s spark plug presence on their defense, which has allowed 103.7 points over the last six games.

Gilbert Arenas was hobbled by a sprained ankle Friday, scoring 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting in Washington’s 99-78 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

It was Arenas’ first game in Golden State since signing a $65 million free-agent contract with Washington eight months ago.

Arenas became a star with the Warriors last season. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds and was named the NBA’s most improved player. Arenas has battled injuries this season.

Etan Thomas had 16 points and eight rebounds Friday for Washington, which has lost 10 of 13.

Wizards guard Steve Blake sat out with a sprained left thumb. His status for Sunday’s game is uncertain.

STANDINGS (through March 26): Wizards - 6th place, 19 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Kings - 1st place (tied), Pacific Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Wizards - F Kwame Brown, F Jared Jeffries, C Brendan Haywood, G Larry Hughes, G Arenas. Kings - F Peja Stojakovic, F Webber, C Vlade Divac, G Doug Christie, G Bibby.

TEAM LEADERS: Wizards - Arenas, 19.7 ppg and 5.3 apg; Brown, 7.4 rpg. Kings - Stojakovic, 24.6 ppg; Miller, 10.5 rpg; Divac, 5.7 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Wizards, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: March 17; Wizards, 114-108. At Washington, Brown had career-highs of 30 points and 19 rebounds while playing all 48 minutes Wednesday night to lead the Wizards.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wizards - 7-28 on the road; Kings - 31-6 at home.

INJURIES: Wizards - F Jarvis Hayes (hamstring); F Lonny Baxter (knee); G Arenas (ankle); G Blake (thumb). Kings - G Jackson (abdomen).

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