New Orleans Hornets at Sacramento Kings (-4.5, 192)
The two worst teams in the Western Conference hook up when the Sacramento Kings host the New Orleans Hornets. Sacramento has lost four straight games and has the second-worst record in the conference.
New Orleans has been even worse and is one of three teams in the NBA that has yet to reach double digits in victories.
The Kings have a chance to make an upward move as the game against the Hornets is the first of a franchise-long nine-game homestand.
Coach Keith Smart received a vote of confidence by club management when he had his contract extended Monday through the 2012-13 season. Smart replaced fired Paul Westphal two months ago and has earned high marks for his rapport with players.
“They have responded pretty well to what I’ve been doing,” Smart said. “They take constructive criticism and take a pat on the back well. We are trying to build something that will last a long time, not a quick-fix deal.”
Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 19 rebounds when the Kings defeated New Orleans on Feb. 6.
Phoenix Suns at Oklahoma City Thunder (-9.5, 203)
They are still just 12th in the Western Conference, but the Phoenix Suns are making a run and own a three-game winning streak, rallying from double digits in each game. Now the Suns face their stiffest test of the month, playing in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
The Thunder will try to win their 14th in a row at home, where they are a league-best 16-1, as well as fifth straight over the Suns.
Marcin Gortat is not one of the first big men thought of when it comes to gaudy stats, but the center is one of only four NBA players – joining Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Marc Gasol - averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is second in the league in scoring but has had limited success against Phoenix. He has averaged 17.3 points in the past three matchups and shot just 34.9 percent.