Programming note: Jazz-Kings coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (territorial restrictions apply) and streaming live right here.
SACRAMENTO -- The Kings (10-10) host the Jazz (5-15), who are on an eight-game losing streak, in the finalé of a five-game home stand on Monday.
The Kings have been missing three things of late: A sense of urgency, consistency, and DeMarcus Cousins.
Sacramento can control the first two, but not the third.
Cousins has been diagnosed with viral meningitis, and while the Kings expect a full recovery, they'll be without their big man for a sixth consecutive game on Monday. And when he returns is just speculation.
Sacramento is 1-4 this season and 1-15 over the last two campaigns without the 6-foot-11 center on the floor.
To turn the page against a struggling Utah squad, the Kings must defend, play with more energy and with consistency for as close to 48 minutes as possible.
With eight of Sacramento’s next ten games at home, the window is open for the Kings to protect their home court -- but it won’t be open for long.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Rudy Gay vs. Gordon Hayward -- Hayward has gone for 30-plus points four times this season and the Kings simply cannot allow him to go off. In the absence of Cousins, the Kings need continued production from Gay, who is averaging 21.1 points and 4.5 assists per game.
1. Defend -- Sacramento allows 98.2 points in their wins and 105.2 points in their losses. The Kings cannot practice egalitarian defense and treat everyone the same. They need to key on No. 20 -- Hayward -- and find him in the hotel lobby as he has the ability to score in bunches.
2. Rebound -- The Kings, who lead the NBA in rebound margin at plus-7.2, were outrebounded by the Magic, leading to 14 second-chance points for Orlando. Even without the leading rebounder in the league in Cousins, Sacramento must take care of business on the glass.
3. Energy -- Home games looked like a safe haven early for the Kings, but Sacramento is 1-4 in their last five at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings must bring it for as close to 48 minutes as possible. How can you measure it? Look for points allowed, rebound margin and free throws attempted, where Sacramento leads the NBA with 32.4 attempts per game.
Kings –- C DeMarcus Cousins (viral infection) is out.
Jazz -– G Alec Burks (left shoulder inflammation) is out.
This is the first of four meetings this season between the Kings and the Jazz. Utah took last season’s series 2-1.
The Jazz lead the series 72-45 in the Sacramento era and the overall series, 95-78.
Michael Malone, Kings coach after Saturday’s 105-96 loss to Orlando: “Defense wins in the NBA and tonight we didn’t defend anybody.”
The Kings need to bring the "D" Monday nighyt versus the Jazz, who average 96.2 points per night.