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Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Game 48: Celtics vs. Kings

By Chris Forsberg

(36-11, 14-8 away)     -- vs. --     (12-33, 7-17 home)
at ARCO Arena, Sacramento, 10 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)

GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
With Sacramento playing without star guard Tyreke Evans (sprained ankle), the Kings didn't have much luck guarding Boston's shooters when it visited TD Garden on Jan. 12. The Celtics shot 52.1 percent overall -- hitting a season-high 12 of 20 3-pointers -- in a 119-95 rout, their seventh consecutive win in the series.

Nate Robinson and Ray Allen hit four 3s apiece in that win. When Allen has hit three or more from beyond the arc -- as he did in scoring 21 against the Lakers on Sunday -- Boston is 19-1.

The Kings, however, seem to be making some defensive adjustments that weren't there when they saw the Celtics three weeks ago. They've allowed an average of 96.9 points in going 4-5 in their last nine games, 6.3 points fewer than they allowed in their first 36 games.

That improved defense has paid off as Sacramento has won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 30-Nov. 1. The Kings held the Lakers to 41.3 percent shooting in a 100-95 road win Friday, then limited New Orleans to 43.2 percent in a 102-96 home victory Saturday.

"We've shown great strides in both focus and poise," coach Paul Westphal said. "We had some hard knocks early in the season, helping us deal with the bumps in the road."

If Sacramento plans on knocking off a third straight stellar opponent, it'll likely need DeMarcus Cousins to keep producing. The rookie center had 27 points against the Lakers, then had 25 points, 12 boards and a season-high seven assists versus the Hornets.

"[Cousins] is intelligent, he learns," Westphal said. "He's learning what works and what doesn't. He's changed some habits offensively."

The Kings will have Evans back to deal with Rajon Rondo in this meeting, but Cousins might have to do some extra work in the paint. Power forward Jason Thompson left Saturday's win with a sprained ankle and was in a walking boot after the game, leaving his status for Tuesday in doubt.

Read the full preview HERE.