The center-less Phoenix Suns get their first look at the Sacramento Kings without longtime standout big man DeMarcus Cousins when the Pacific Division rivals meet Wednesday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arizona in Phoenix.
The Kings won for the second time in 10 games since dealing Cousins to New Orleans when they dispatched the Orlando Magic 120-115 at home Monday night.
Two young big men who saw their roles increase in the wake of the Cousins deal -- Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere -- contributed to the victory that snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Cauley-Stein had 18 points, the third time he's gone for 18 or more since the Cousins trade. He'd never scored more than 17 this season before that.
Cauley-Stein, a teammate of Suns star Devin Booker on the 2015 Kentucky team that reached the Final Four undefeated, started six of the last eight games. He averaged 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in those starts.
Labissiere, meanwhile, recorded a season-best four blocks to go with 11 points and seven rebounds against the Magic. The 20-year-old rookie, acquired on draft night from Phoenix in a deal that allowed the Suns to move up and get Marquese Chriss, has averaged 8.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 15.7 minutes since the trade.
Labissiere made just his second start of the season against Orlando, paired with Cauley-Stein.
"It's one of five or six things we want to look at over the course of the rest of the season," Kings coach Dave Joerger told reporters after the game. "When you start together, you automatically get those first seven minutes or so at the start of each half together. We want them to start getting a rhythm, get used to playing together."
Labissiere saw no action against the Kings in the clubs' first two meetings this season. Each won on the opponent's floor in those games, with Sacramento prevailing 113-94 on Opening Night in Phoenix, before the Suns won a dramatic 105-103 rematch at Sacramento in February on a buzzer-beater by Booker.
The Suns' second-year standout also had a game-winner Saturday night at Dallas. He had 36 points in that game, part of a four-game sequence in which he's averaged 28.
Booker is in rare company with his two buzzer-beaters this season.
"I think I was just born that way," he insisted to reporters after the Dallas game. "Every level I've ever played, I've wanted to be the guy where if I make it, it's on me, and if I miss it, it's on me. In all those situations, I feel comfortable because every time I practice, I visualize myself in that moment."
Booker recorded an unusual feat in Sunday's home loss to Portland, taking 26 shots without attempting a 3-pointer. Only Toronto's DeMar DeRozan (twice) duplicated that oddity this season.
For the second game in a row Sunday, the Suns played without a center, opting to sit veteran Tyson Chandler for a 10th consecutive game even though new starter Alex Len was sidelined for a second straight time with a strained hip.
Len remains out indefinitely.
Suns coach Earl Watson has inserted Derrick Jones Jr., a small forward, into Len's spot in the starting lineup. Jones missed two of his last three shots after making 10 straight, yet still leads the league in field goal percentage (75.8) among all players with 30 or more shot attempts.