Bobcats-Kings Preview

The Associated Press

The drama over the Sacramento Kings' fate could end next month. In the meantime, the Kings will try to put together some winning performances in front of their fans.

Sacramento will play 13 of its next 18 games at home beginning with Sunday's visit from the Charlotte Bobcats.

The NBA received an official offer on Friday from 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and billionaire Ron Burkle to buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento. The current owners, the Maloof family, signed an agreement in January with a group led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer to sell a 65 percent stake in the team for $341 million.

That group has already petitioned the league to relocate the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The NBA board of governors is expected to vote in mid-April on that bid.

Before that happens, Kings fans will get plenty of chances to see their team. Sacramento (20-40) will play seven of its next nine games on its own court and will try to avoid a fourth straight home loss to Charlotte (13-45) in the first of those.

The Kings enter this game having lost seven of eight and capped a 1-4 road trip with Friday's 130-102 defeat to San Antonio. Reserve Marcus Thornton had 25 points but Sacramento allowed the Spurs to shoot an opponent season-high 60.7 percent.

"It's only one game. I think we can bounce back on Sunday. We've just got to be ready to play," guard Tyreke Evans said. "It's an early game. We've got to get our rest and be ready to play."

Thornton is averaging 27.0 points over the last three games - 14.5 better than his season average - but leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins (17.2 per game) has combined for 22 in his last two.

Sacramento's biggest problem, however, has been a defense that is allowing an NBA-worst 116.3 points per game in 10 contests since Feb. 9.

A matchup with the Bobcats might help end those defensive woes. Averaging 93.2 points, Charlotte is among the league's least dynamic teams and had its worst scoring performance of the season in a 98-68 drubbing in Utah on Friday.

Byron Mullens (12 points) and Ramon Sessions (11) were the only players in double figures for the Bobcats, who had nine first-quarter points on 4-of-20 shooting. Charlotte ended up shooting 34.6 percent in its 21st loss in 25 games and fifth in a row.

"You just need to keep your head and keep fighting," Mullens said. "You just have to remember it's just a game. Just go out there and have fun. I know it's a job now, but you still have to go out and compete."

The Bobcats, loser in nine of 10 on the road, have dropped the past two matchups with the Kings, including a 97-93 defeat Jan. 19.

Evans hit the go-ahead layup with 1:19 remaining and combined with Isaiah Thomas for nine of the game's final 12 points. Thornton led five Kings in double figures with 18 points off the bench.

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