The Sacramento Kings leave for a road trip with the best record in the Western Conference. They hope they still have it when they return from three games in Texas.
The Kings open their trip against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in a matchup of West powers.
Sacramento has led the West for most of the season, but holding onto the top spot might be difficult. The Kings have started to struggle lately, while the Los Angeles Lakers have finally gotten healthy and are putting on a late-season surge.
The Kings will have to play better this week or their lead may be gone by the time they return from three games in five days in Texas—all against likely playoff teams.
Following Wednesday’s game at San Antonio, which is 3 1/2 games behind Sacramento in fourth place, the Kings visit sixth-place Dallas on Thursday night and go to seventh-place Houston on Sunday afternoon.
This is the first time in franchise history the Kings will play three consecutive road games in Texas twice in one season. Sacramento went 2-1 on a trip from Jan. 25-29, winning at Houston and San Antonio.
“We’ve got to win on the road,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge. We need to get one in San Antonio.”
Sacramento has swept the “Texas Triangle” trip just once, from Nov. 27-30, 2002.
Sacramento rebounded from consecutive losses by beating the Washington Wizards 100-92 on Sunday—just its third win in the last seven games.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t expect the Kings’ struggles to last.
“They’re the best team in the league and that speaks for itself,” he said. “It’s going to be a heck of a challenge. Were going to have to play good defense or we’ll get embarrassed.”
San Antonio is 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the Midwest Division lead.
With the Final Four in town over the weekend, San Antonio is on the road for its next two games, including a showdown with the Lakers on Sunday. The Spurs have lost four straight away from home.
“Sacramento is going to be a huge game for us. These games are so great for us especially this close to the playoffs,” Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. “It produces a playoff atmosphere and we are looking forward to it. I just hope we can come out with a win.”
The Spurs are seeking their sixth straight 50-win season—excluding the lockout-shortened 1999 campaign.