Malone's pregame message: 'Make a play for a teammate tonight'
The Kings beat the Magic 105-100 behind 23 points each from Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas on Dec. 21. (USATSI)
INSIDE THE MATCHUP
- Sacramento has won three straight over Orlando, after the Magic had taken seven of the previous eight games in the series.
- Orlando lost at Portland on Wednesday, 110-94, for the club's fifth consecutive defeat; only two clubs, the Celtics and Pistons, have longer active losing streaks, both with six.
- The Kings beat Portland on Tuesday, 123-119, and they have scored 100+ points in 10 straight games, which is the longest active streak. However, they are just 4-6 over that stretch.
- In the win over the Trail Blazers, DeMarcus Cousins (35) and Rudy Gay (32) became the first pair of Kings to score 32+ points in the same contest since Mike Bibby (40) and Brad Miller (35) did so versus the Knicks on February 4, 2005.
- DeMarcus Cousins has posted a double-double in each of his last eight games, which is the longest active streak; over that stretch, he is averaging 25.6 points, 13.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals.
- In his last four games against the Kings, Arron Afflalo is averaging 22.8 points while knocking down eight of 19 three-point attempts (.421).
Programming note: Magic-Kings coverage begins Friday at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (territorial restrictions apply)
Among the list of things the struggling Sacramento Kings have been missing this season is a home winning streak.
Coming off their highest scoring game of 2013-14, the Kings look to win two straight at home for the first time since March when they host the reeling Orlando Magic on Friday.
Sacramento (11-22), which is 7-13 at home, hasn't won back-to-back games at Sleep Train Arena since a three-game streak from March 13-21. The Kings have managed to win two straight overall only twice this season, the last time in early December.
They've split their last four home games and have had arguably one of their better stretches this season during the last six overall - despite going 3-3 in those contests. They have won at Houston and beaten Miami and Portland at home during that stretch.
Following a 123-119 win over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, Sacramento is shooting 46.1 percent and averaging 109.5 points over its last four at home - both better than its season averages. The team has also outrebounded opponents 50.5-42.8 in those games.
The Kings played aggressively against Portland, going to the free-throw line 50 times while making 36 of them. It was the team's highest total of attempts since going 43 for 51 against Milwaukee on Jan. 16, 2009.
DeMarcus Cousins had 35 points and 13 rebounds, Rudy Gay scored 32 and Isaiah Thomas finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
"Obviously, we need to get this team somewhere where everyone can shine," Gay said. It's not just about Cousins, it's not just about me — it's about us. As we get better, I think that everyone is going to get noticed."
The Kings have already beaten the Magic this season, winning 105-100 at Orlando on Dec. 21. Sacramento trailed by two heading into the fourth in that one before outscoring the Magic 30-23 in the quarter. Gay and Thomas each scored 23 points, and the team shot 52.2 percent (12 of 23) from 3-point range.
It was the third straight loss against the Kings overall for the Magic, who had won four straight in Sacramento before falling 91-82 there on Dec. 7, 2012.
Orlando (10-25), riding a five-game losing streak, has dropped the first two on its five-game western swing, including a 110-94 loss at Portland on Wednesday.
The Magic shot 39.8 percent and got only 14 points from their reserves.
"Everyone has to be ready to play, you have to do your part," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "That's what we always talk about. The starters cannot play the whole game and we need guys to step up and be in the game and do their job."
Orlando has had trouble all season scoring close to the basket. The Magic rank near the bottom of the NBA with an average of 36.0 points in the paint, and they managed only 24 against the Blazers - one of their lowest totals this season.
A portion of that can be attributed to the absence of center Nik Vucevic, who missed the game because of a concussion. Vucevic, who is averaging 13.0 points and 11.0 rebounds, is expected to miss the remainder of the trip.
"You just have to do your job, and that's to play the game," said Glen Davis, the team's normal power forward who slid over to center in Vucevic's absence. "Wherever they put you at, you just have to play."
Orlando's trip also takes it to Denver on Saturday before closing Monday in Dallas.