Sacramento may not make the playoffs, but not many teams have been playing better at home than it has. The Washington Wizards, though, have had an easy time against the Kings in recent years regardless of the venue.
The Wizards, playing the middle contest of a five-game trip against Western Conference teams, look to extend their winning streak against the Kings to six when the teams conclude their season series Friday night.
With 11 games left in the regular season, Washington (37-34) is trying to hold on to one of the final playoff spots in the East. Three games remain on the Wizards’ road trip before they close the regular season with eight straight contests against conference opponents.
Washington has split the trip’s first two games, beating lowly Seattle 104-99 on Wednesday night after losing the opener 102-82 to Portland the previous day.
The Wizards conclude the swing with matchups against Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers, who are both playoff-bound, but a contest in Sacramento may prove to be just as tough. The Kings (32-39) are in 11th place in the West, but rank among the top ten teams in the league with a 14-4 record at home since the start of 2008.
Sacramento has won four straight at ARCO Arena, including a 107-106 overtime victory over Memphis on March 26. The Kings, however, have lost two straight at home during their five-game skid versus the Wizards.
Washington hasn’t lost to Sacramento since Feb. 27, 2005, when the Kings won 110-108 on the road. The Wizards won their first matchup with the Kings this season 92-79 on Dec. 15.
Roger Mason played well off the bench for Washington in that game, finishing with 13 points. He helped the Wizards earn their first win of this road trip, making five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter versus the SuperSonics.
Washington, which remains a half-game ahead of sixth-place Philadelphia in the East, has been getting solid performances from Mason throughout the season and he expects it to continue during the playoff push.
“That’s been my role all year,” Mason said. “I’ve been able to step up.”
Wizards leading scorer Antawn Jamison, meanwhile, has struggled in back-to-back games. Jamison, posting 21.5 points a contest, has averaged 13.0 while shooting 30.0 percent (9-for-30) from the field in the first two games of Washington’s road trip.
Now, Jamison will likely be matched up with Kings stopper Ron Artest, who had 24 points and tied a season high with six steals versus the Grizzlies. Artest is averaging 20.2 points and 2.3 steals per game.
Sacramento’s frontcourt, though, may be without rookie center Spencer Hawes after he injured an ankle in the second quarter against Memphis. Hawes, the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, was injured two games after making his first career start, finishing with career highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds in a loss to Memphis on Saturday night.