It's one of those better to lose than win games Monday for the future of each franchise when the Kings host the Pelicans, with Sacramento opening as a 3-point favorite on NBA odds with a total of 203 for sports bettors.
Second Thoughts On Trade?
Sacramento and New Orleans were part of a summer deal that sent former Kings swingman Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans. It hasn't worked out for New Orleans. Evans, the former NBA Rookie of the Year, is averaging a career-worst 12.2 points and shooting only 40 percent from the field. His numbers have steadily declined since his rookie season.
Another trade New Orleans made could come back to bite the franchise unless it keeps losing. It sent 2013 No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick on draft night to Philadelphia for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. He hasn't played since Jan. 8 because of a stress fracture in his right leg. It was expected to only keep Holiday out a month but he had surgery on Friday and is done for the season. The Pelicans were 15-19 with Holiday, who averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 assists, and are 8-15 without him. They've also lost forward Ryan Anderson, one of the NBA's best 3-point shooters, and center Jason Smith for the year.
Entering Sunday the Pelicans have the ninth-worst record in the NBA. It behooves them to lose because that picked owed to the Sixers is Top-5 protected. The Kings and Lakers enter play Sunday tied for the fifth-worst record in the league, only three games "behind" New Orleans.
The Pelicans (24-31-4 ATS, 28-30-1 O/U at sportsbooks) appear to have mailed it in already. They have lost seven straight, the last four by double digits. New Orleans was blown off the court at the Clippers on Saturday, 108-76. Anthony Davis, who has shown flashes of being a Top-5 player in the league, had just eight points as he was in foul trouble. He's also playing through a sprained shoulder. The Pelicans turned the ball over 22 times. About the only bright spot was that Austin Rivers, taken No. 10 in the 2012 draft, had 19 points. He still looks like a major bust.
Three Kings ...
Sacramento (25-32-2 ATS. 30-27-2 O/U at sportsbooks) has lost three straight and allowed an average of a whopping 121 points in that stretch -- even the terrible Lakers scored 126 on the Kings on Friday. The King, who are 27th in the league in points allowed, were beaten 108-97 at home by Minnesota on Saturday night in their last game. DeMarcus Cousins was back after a one-game suspension and had 21 points and 17 rebounds. His next technical foul earns him another suspension. Rudy Gay had 24 points and Isaiah Thomas 22 points and eight assists. Those three are good and are the only trio in the NBA all averaging at least 20 points. The Kings are 14-16 when those three play but don't have much else. Reserve forward Carl Landry sat out his second straight game with a knee injury. He gets around 13 minutes a night and is questionable for this one.
Sacramento definitely wants to lose out because it owes a first-round pick to Cleveland (which then has to ship it to Chicago from the Luol Deng deal) but it's Top-12 protected. That was from the J.J. Hickson deal with Cleveland in 2011, a major blunder for the Kings and former GM Geoff Petrie. Sacramento also bought out first-round bust Jimmer Fredette this week and he signed with Chicago. The Kings traded Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn before the deadline and got Jason Terry and Reggie Evans back. It was a salary dump and Terry won't play the rest of the season.
Tied 1-1. On Dec. 23 in Sacramento the Pelicans won 113-100 as 1-point underdogs for sports bettors. Evans had one of his best games of the season in his return to California's capital city with 25 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. Cousins had 24 points and 14 rebounds, but the Kings turned it over 22 times. On Jan. 21 in New Orleans, the Kings were 1.5-point favorites on NBA odds and won 114-97. Gay exploded for a career-high-tying 41 points. Cousins had 18 points and 11 boards. Davis had 16 points but was minus-27. Take the Kings-3 and over for your basketball picks!
NBA free picks: Kings -3 and the over. New Orleans has covered only one of its past nine road games. The favorite has covered in five of the past six meetings. The over is 10-1 in the Pelicans' past 11 against teams with a losing record and 7-0 in the Kings' past seven against under .500 teams.