The Sacramento Kings opened last season by losing three straight on the road. They’re hoping to avoid doing it again.
The new-look Kings try to notch their first victory of the season when they visit the Phoenix Suns.
Sacramento started 0-3 last season after losing at Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. The Kings, who added Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells in the offseason, have dropped road games to New Orleans and Houston to start this campaign.
“We’ve definitely struggled so far,” Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. “It’s not that unusual when you have players that haven’t been playing that long together.”
Adelman chose to start Abdur-Rahim over Kenny Thomas and the move has suited the power forward, who is averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds through two games. It hasn’t worked as well for Thomas, who has a total of eight points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes.
“I’m a professional athlete and I’m here to do a job,” Thomas said. “He (Adelman) told me I would probably be the first player off the bench each game. I’ll just go out and keep on doing what I’ve always done, rebound, play defense and shoot when I get a good look.”
Star guard Mike Bibby is also off to a slow start for Sacramento. He is averaging 6.5 points on 22.8 percent shooting (5-of-22).
“It’s frustrating because I’m not just missing, I’m missing badly,” Bibby said. “A lot of it is confidence though. I make a couple and I’m right out of it.”
Phoenix has bounced back from a season-opening overtime loss to Dallas by winning a pair of road games. Shawn Marion continued his strong start with 20 points and 14 rebounds in a 97-88 victory at Utah on Saturday.
Marion has been called upon to increase his production with star forward Amare Stoudemire out at least four months as he recovers from knee surgery. Marion leads Phoenix in scoring (21) and rebounding (13.7) while posting double-doubles in each game this season.
The Suns are averaging 109 points per game after averaging 110.4 to lead the league last season. They are also averaging just under 30 assists per game, led by reigning MVP Steve Nash’s 12.3.
Nash averaged 22 points and 11.7 assists while shooting 64.1 percent (25-of-39) in three games against Sacramento last season.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 5): Kings - 5th place, 2 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Suns - 2nd place, 1 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Abdur-Rahim, 15.5 ppg; Wells, 12 rpg; Miller and Bibby, 4.5 apg. Suns - Marion, 21 ppg and 13.7 rpg; Nash, 12.3 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
LAST MEETING: April 20; Kings, 132-107. At Sacramento, Calif., Darius Songaila, Cuttino Mobley and Corliss Williamson scored 19 points apiece to lead eight Kings in double figures in the regular-season finale for both teams. Nash sat out with nothing at stake for the Suns, who missed a chance at a franchise-record 63rd win.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 0-2 on the road; Suns - 0-1 at home.