From Comcast SportsNetORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Magic center Dwight Howard will sit out Orlando's home game Friday night against Atlanta because of back spasms.Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy made the announcement at the team's morning shoot around, adding that backup point guard Chris Duhon is also still questionable after missing the past two games with a suspension and sore foot, respectively.Howard, who has missed three of the Magic's past five games, is in Los Angeles seeking a second opinion on his injured back.Van Gundy says Howard was in pain following the team's practice Thursday and the coach isn't optimistic he'll be ready to play at Cleveland Sunday or against Philadelphia on Monday.The Magic entered Friday tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta, though the Hawks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Sacramento Kings make the 90 mile commute to Oakland for a match up against the first place Golden State Warriors Friday evening. The Kings have lost three straight and are just 2-11 over their previous 13 games as they transition to a youth movement.
Buddy Hield tied his career-high with 21 points versus the Milwaukee Bucks last time out. He’ll face a different beast against the Warriors. Klay Thompson is one of the best two-way shooting guards in the league. He can light you up from long range and shut you down with physical play on the other side of the ball.
Matt Barnes joined the W’s after being waived by the Kings during the All-Star break. The 37-year-old forward has played nearly 20 minutes per night for Golden State, averaging 5.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 11 games.
Warriors by 17.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Buddy Hield vs. Klay Thompson -- Hield is averaging 14.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 27.6 minutes over 14 games with the Kings. The rookie shooting guard is shooting 50 percent from the field, 44.9 percent from 3-point range and posted double-figure scoring in all but two games since coming over via trade during the All-Star break. Thompson is one of the premiere player at his position, posting 22.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. The Kings have been on the receiving end of plenty of his scoring outbursts over the years.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 27-44 third place in Pacific
Warriors: 57-14, first place in Pacific
Kings: SG Malachi Richardson (torn hamstring) status unknown at this time, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.
Warriors: SF Kevin Durant (tibial bruise, knee) out.
The Warriors lead the season series at 2-1 with a 109-86 victory at Oracle Arena. Golden State holds a 199-186 lead over the Kings all-time and a 71-65 advantage during the Sacramento-era.
“I’m trying to kill ‘em, plain and simple. Things didn’t go well there. They’re the enemy now, so we’re trying to kill ‘em - beat them by 50.” -Matt Barnes on his approach against his former team
OAKLAND -- Seeking their sixth consecutive win, the Warriors will get their first look at the dramatically revamped Sacramento Kings when the teams meet Friday night at Oracle Arena.
A win by the Warriors, combined with a Cleveland Cavaliers loss, would give the Warriors homecourt advantage in any NBA Finals scenario.
But the Warriors (57-14) may have to squint to recognize these Kings, who last month traded star big man DeMarcus Cousins -- the team’s mainstay for seven years -- to the Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and other considerations.
The Kings (27-44) have lost 11 of 14 games since the deal and are slowly sinking out of the Western Conference playoff race.
Warriors by 17.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Klay Thompson vs. Buddy Hield: It’s a battle between the Bahamians, or as Thompson has said of Hield, “My Bahamian brother.” Thompson has been cooking, shooting 53.2 percent (25-of-47) beyond the arc and 55.3 (52-of-94) percent overall over the last five games. Hield, a rookie from Oklahoma, has adapted well to Sacramento, scoring in double digits in 10 of 11 games while shooting 48.2 percent (27-of-56) from deep and 50.0 percent (60-of-120) overall this month.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, tibial bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
Kings: F Rudy Gay (L Achilles tear) and G Malachi Richardson (R hamstring partial tear) are listed as out.
Warriors: 7-3. Kings: 2-8.
The Warriors have won two of three meetings this season and 15 of the last 17 overall, including the last seven games in Oakland.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE TRANSITION GAME: Though the Kings are playing faster in the post-Cousins era, they still have little chance of matching the pace at which the Warriors prefer to play. Expect the Warriors to push at every opportunity, even if it means committing a few turnovers, in order to coax Sacramento out of rhythm. The Kings rank 26th in fast-break points and actually had a game in which they scored 0 fast-break points.
BOMBS AWAY: The Warriors rank third in 3-point shooting percentage (38.3), while the Kings rank 26th in 3-point percentage defense (37.2). There will opportunities galore for Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Ian Clark and Thompson -- who two years ago torched the Kings with an NBA-record 37 points in a quarter.
THIS “SKAL” GUY: Rookie forward Skal Labissiere, a 6-foot-11 package of raw talent, has been something of a revelation for the Kings. Emerging from the shadows in the wake of the Cousins deal, he has reminded observers why he was such a heralded prep recruit from the Memphis area. This sounds like a job for Draymond Green.
“Try to kill ‘em, plain and simple. Things didn’t go well there. They’re the enemy now. So we’re trying to kill ‘em. Beat ‘em by 50.” -- Warriors forward Matt Barnes on facing the Kings, who released him last month.