Wizards, Kings winning despite missing pieces

Two losing teams playing winning basketball go head-to-head Sunday night when the Sacramento Kings visit the Washington Wizards.

The game pits a Kings' team that has turned around an 0-5 start with a 6-3 run against a Wizards squad that's won three of four after opening 2-7.

It also brings together two clubs missing their star point guards, with Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox out with a sprained ankle while Washington's John Wall is unlikely to play this season because of an Achilles injury.

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That hasn't stopped one of the two -- the Wizards -- from running up some big numbers this season. A big reason: Ex-Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, who had a string of six straight games with double-figure points snapped in Friday's 125-118 home win over Charlotte.

Two nights earlier, Thomas contributed 11 points and six assists to a 138-point explosion against the San Antonio Spurs, one of four times the Wizards have topped 130 already this season.

"A lot of people have counted me out, especially the last couple of years," Thomas proclaimed to reporters before Friday's game. "But I know what I've been through, I know what my body's been through. I know how good I feel, I know I'm ready and I know given the opportunity, I can play at an All-Star level again. And that's what I'm gonna showcase.

"I promise you I'm gonna be an All-Star, I'm gonna be an All-NBA basketball player again."

The 30-year-old Thomas was closing in on that distinction when he averaged 20.3 points for Sacramento in his third season. He was dealt to Phoenix after that success, and two years later made his first of two All-Star appearances for Boston.

The Kings probably would love to have him back, especially with their young star, Fox, out of action. Sacramento has been starting defensive-minded Cory Joseph in his place, and it's not a coincidence that defense has been the key to the Kings' recent roll.

Before giving up 116 points in each of their past two games, they'd held five of seven opponents to 101 or fewer, winning four of those contests.

Unfortunately, they've managed to put up 100 or fewer points in three of their past four games, a stretch during which high-scoring swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic injured his hip.

He didn't play in Friday's 116-97 loss at Brooklyn, but he did warm up before the game and is considered probable to return to face Washington.

Buddy Hield noted that the remaining Kings fragmented from team to individuals in their quest to take up the slack for the missing scoring sources in Friday's defeat.

"We had a rough shooting night because guys forced it," he observed to reporters afterward. "We were just out of whack."

The Kings will be making the second stop on their second Eastern swing already this season. They won at New York and Atlanta on a three-game trip earlier.

This four-game venture continues Monday at Boston and Wednesday at Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, Washington will be attempting to complete a 3-0 homestand that began with the high-scoring wins over the Spurs and Hornets.

--Field Level Media

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