Game 25: Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns, Monday, 12/17/2012 7:00 PM MST / 9 EST
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Aaron Brooks - Tyreke Evans - John Salmons - Jason Thompson - DeMarcus Cousins
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Goran Dragic - Shannon Brown - Jared Dudley - Luis Scola - Marcin Gortat
The Phoenix Suns won all three meetings versus the Sacramento Kings last season despite being unable to contain DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins has excelled against the Suns throughout his career, something he'll hope to continue as the visiting Kings try to end a four-game slide Monday night.
This is the first meeting in 2012-13 between the worst teams in the Pacific Division, with Phoenix (9-15) taking all three from Sacramento (7-16) last season. The Suns, of course, had Steve Nash for those contests.
Cousins, meanwhile, averaged 27.7 points and 11.7 boards in those defeats. His scoring average of 22.8 points against the Suns is his best against any opponent, and he's shooting 51.0 percent versus Phoenix -- one of three teams he has made at least half his shots against.
Suns center Marcin Gortat will likely be tasked with trying to slow down Cousins. Gortat averaged 16.3 points on 64.5 percent shooting last season against Sacramento.
Teammate Jared Dudley also averaged 16.3 points in those contests, shooting 59.4 percent.
Dudley is averaging 15.0 points since rejoining the starting lineup Dec. 8 against the Clippers. He scored a season-high 22 in Friday's 99-84 home victory over Utah.
"I'm a glue guy where I gotta fit in with guys, where guys are unselfish, playing the game, we're moving the ball," Dudley said. "That's happening now, we're in a good rhythm."
Goran Dragic scored 17 and Gortat added 12 and 14 rebounds for Phoenix, which has posted consecutive wins since a season-high seven-game slide.
"We play well against good teams and we demonstrated this in the last two games," Dragic said. "If we can defend well and rebound then we can run."
Sacramento has lost every game during its skid by double digits, falling by an average of 17.7 points. The Kings fell behind by 14 points inside 10 minutes and trailed by as many as 34 in Sunday's 122-97 home defeat to Denver.
"The game was decided very early in this basketball game," coach Keith Smart said.
Starting guard Tyreke Evans played the first 10 minutes, then left for good with a sore left knee. He missed five of the previous eight games because of his injured knee.
"You want to have all your pieces you practice with. We know Tyreke is going through some issues with his knees and we hope to get him back," guard Aaron Brooks said. "But we have to play a little harder. Right now I think we are slow on everything."
Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 20 points and Cousins added 19 and 11 boards. Sacramento played its third straight game without Marcus Thornton, who left the team to be with his sick mother in Louisiana.
Brooks will return to Phoenix for the first time since he played 25 games for the Suns last season after coming over in the trade that sent Dragic to Houston. Dragic signed with the Suns as a free agent before this season.
Sacramento is 1-9 on the road, and has lost 11 of its last 12 trips to Phoenix.