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Bucks vs. Kings Preview: Short-Handed Bucks Seek First Road Win In Sacramento

2011/2012 NBA Season

2-3 (0-3 road) 2-5 (2-2 home)
January 5, 2012
Power Balance Pavilion
9:00 PM CT
Radio: 1250 WSSP TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Tyreke Evans
Stephen Jackson
SG Marcus Thornton
Carlos Delfino SF John Salmons
Ersan Ilyasova
PF J.J. Hickson
Drew Gooden C Chuck Hayes

(28th) 96.5 - OFFENSE - 98.5 (26th)
(2nd) 95.2 - DEFENSE - 109.6 (27th)
(6th) 94.1 - PACE - 93.4 (8th)

On the Kings: Sactown Royalty / Cowbell Kingdom / Sacramento Bee

After dropping the first two games of their Western Conference trip, the Milwaukee Bucks look to earn their first road win of the season as they take on the Kings in Sacramento.

Milwaukee will once again be dealing with a long list of inactive players. Andrew Bogut, who reportedly returned "home" on Tuesday, remains away from the team. He is expected to rejoin the Bucks soon. Mike Dunleavy will miss his third consecutive game, as his flu symptoms have taken a mysterious medical turn and are now manifesting as a groin injury. Beno Udrih remains day-to-day with a shoulder injury sustained Monday against Denver. Finally, Luc Mbah a Moute will miss tonight's game due to continued soreness in his knee.

UPDATE: The Sacramento Kings have announced that head coach Paul Westphal has been fired. Assistant coach Keith Smart will coach the Kings in tonight's game.

Hobson Recalled. Likely in response to the depleted roster, the Bucks recalled Darington Hobson from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League. Hobson will be available tonight against the Kings. In three games with the Mad Ants, Hobson averaged 11.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. He put up an impressive 22/5/5 line in his first start on January 1. With a thin rotation in the backcourt and wings, it wouldn't be surprising to see Hobson play more minutes than usual (zero) tonight.

DeMarcus Drama. The Kings were embroiled in a minor controversy last weekend when coach Paul Westphal publicly announced that DeMarcus Cousins had requested a trade. Details from both sides of the story poured in, including strict denial by Cousins' agent John Greig. Cousins did not attend the Kings' game against New Orleans last Sunday, but has come off the bench in Sacramento's last two games, including an impressive 26 point outing in 25 minutes against the Nuggets last night. Tom Ziller of SB Nation suggests that this whole mess is just highlighting the failures of Kings coach Paul Westphal.

Another Tired Opponent. If only because I feel like I have to mention it, the Kings will be playing their third game in three nights as they complete their only back-to-back-to-back of the season. The last time Milwaukee faced a team playing on a similar schedule, the Denver Nuggets ran circles around them. I could suggest that, having just returned from a blowout loss to the Nuggets, the Kings will be burned out and discouraged, but I'm not sure if anybody will really buy that as a boost for the Bucks. If nothing else, a day of rest (and a return to sea level) gives Milwaukee a chance to recover from what was an exceedingly rough ride through the Rockies.

Do I Dare Mention Matchups? This time Tuesday, I was cheerfully writing about the Utah Jazz's poor defense offering a boost to Milwaukee's offense. This time today, I'm glumly noting that after Tuesday's game, the Jazz's defensive efficiency jumped from 27th to 20th, improving by 4.6 points. Similarly, the Bucks' offensive rating fell from 23rd to 28th. Tonight's contest actually looks very even--both teams are fairly fast-paced, both are dreadful on offense. Milwaukee seemingly holds a big advantage on defense, but it's questionable how that will play out with both Andrew Bogut and Luc Mbah a Moute inactive.

Out With The Old, In With The...Old. Milwaukee faces off against John Salmons for the first time since he was dealt to the Kings as part of a three-team deal on draft day. Comparing this year's numbers for Salmons and replacement Stephen Jackson is a bit sad. Both are shooting under 35% on the season, though Salmons has made 38% of his three-point shots; Stephen Jackson is taking two more shots from deep per game than John, but he's making fewer than 20% of them. So that's nice. Jackson has better ancillary stats but is also turning it over almost four times as much. If this game comes down to a battle between ex-and-current-Bucks, nobody will win.

We Want Our Hat Back. This will also be Milwaukee's first look at rookie Jimmer Fredette, who was drafted by the Bucks and then--NO NEVERMIND HE WAS NEVER DRAFTED BY THE BUCKS HE COULDN'T POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN A BUCK LET'S JUST FORGET THIS.

Triple-Double Watch. Drew Gooden and Chuck Hayes both pulled off improbable triple-doubles last season (Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie blog called Hayes' one of the least likely triple-doubles ever). If this game is anything like Tuesday's, a Drew Gooden trip-dub might not just be surprising, it might be necessary.