Shaquille O’Neal during the pregame show predicted a big win for the Kings, saying he expected them to capitalize on the Pelicans losing star Zion Williamson to a hamstring injury during Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The larger-than-life big man said he believes that injury would have the Pelicans feeling deflated.

“I’m going with Sacramento tonight by double digits,” O’Neal said.

The often-opinionated Charles Barkley said he doesn’t usually root for a particular team — but that he wanted Sacramento to win Friday because the Kings would make a more entertaining matchup in the first round of the playoffs. With Williamson sidelined for an estimated two weeks, New Orleans would likely be swept by the top-seed Oklahoma City Thunder, Barkley opined.

“I just want to see a competitive series, because every series in the West is crazy,” Barkley said.

Kenny Smith called Friday’s matchup a “pick-’em” game, anticipating a close contest.

At the end of the first quarter, Sacramento held a 24-22 advantage. De’Aaron Fox led all scorers with 11 points.