Kings-Suns gameday live: Major playoff implications; Durant, Ayton, Huerter injury updates
The Kings will play host to the Phoenix Suns in a game with major playoff implications on Friday at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings (43-29) are third in the Western Conference as they close in on their first playoff appearance since 2006. The Suns (38-34) are fourth, five games behind the Kings.
If the Kings win Friday, they will have a six-game lead over the Suns with nine games remaining, all but assuring them of no worse than the No. 3 seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
A win would also give the Kings a 2-2 split in the season series against the Suns. The Kings would then gain the tiebreaker advantage over the Suns by virtue of their conference record.
If Phoenix wins on Friday, the Suns would move within four games of the Kings for the No. 3 seed. Closing that gap over the final two weeks of the season wouldn’t be easy, but the Suns would then hold the tiebreaker based on their 3-1 advantage in the season series.
Trying to contain Devin Booker will be a big part of Sacramento’s gameplan. Booker scored 44 points to lead the Suns to a 122-117 victory over the Kings on Nov. 28 in Sacramento. He had 32 points in a 120-109 win over the Kings on Feb. 14 in Phoenix.
The Kings gained a measure of revenge in a 128-119 victory over the Suns on March 11 in Phoenix. Harrison Barnes scored 19 points to lead seven players in double figures for the Kings, who had a 65-34 advantage in points off the bench.
Kings guard Kevin Huerter missed the past two games — a 128-120 loss to the Utah Jazz and a 132-109 loss to the Boston Celtics — due to a strained popliteus muscle behind his right knee. Huerter participated in Thursday’s practice and is considered questionable for Friday’s game.
Huerter is averaging a career-high 15.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists this season. He is shooting career bests of 48.7% from the field and 40.8% from 3-point range. He has knocked down a sizzling 56.6% from beyond the arc in March.
The Suns are missing 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant and center Deandre Ayton. Both have been ruled out for Friday’s game against the Kings.
Durant, who was acquired in a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline, has been out since March 5 with a sprained ankle. Ayton, who has a right hip contusion, hasn’t played since March 16.
Durant appeared in only three games for Phoenix before going down with the ankle injury, averaging 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He is expected to be reevaluated next week. Ayton, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, is averaging a career-high 18.3 points and 10.1 rebounds.
Suns at Kings
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Golden 1 Center
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140
Odds: Kings -3.5
Suns: OUT — Deandre Ayton (hip); Kevin Durant (ankle).
Kings: QUESTIONABLE — Kevin Huerter (popliteus).
March 24 vs. Phoenix Suns
March 25 vs. Utah Jazz
March 27 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
March 29 at Portland Trail Blazers
March 31 at Portland Trail Blazers