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Something has to give when Kings host Nets
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Neither the Sacramento Kings nor the Brooklyn Nets have been caught up in the controversial conversations concerning the race by the dregs of the NBA to lose games. Yet, neither team seems capable anytime soon of winning more than just an occasional contest.
On Thursday, one of them will have to prevail. The two bottom feeders in their respective conferences face each other at the Golden 1 Center, giving each a chance to add a blip to what has seemed to be endless losing lately.
Sacramento has lost four straight at home, and Brooklyn has dropped seven straight on the road.
The Kings (18-43 and 14th among 15 teams in the Western Conference) have dropped five straight nine of their past 11 and are coming off a 116-99 defeat Tuesday in Portland. At home, Sacramento also has lost nine of its past 10 and 12 of its past 14.
Their most recent loss seemed all too familiar. The Kings' offense stagnated (44.3 percent shooting, including 7 for 22 from 3-point distance) and too often looked chaotic and without rhythm.
Sacramento averages 99 points, the second-fewest in the NBA, but has topped 100 in six of its past eight.
"The way our offense is, you're going to have the first shot, but you're going to have that again off of just three more passes," center Willie Cauley-Stein told the Sacramento Bee. "You're going to have the same play, but where they just can't stand there, and it's just like no movement and it's kind of a mess."
The Kings have committed themselves to their youth movement, which has created a pattern of fits and starts. They did some things very well against Portland, forcing 17 turnovers, 14 of them on steals. But they were undermined by the things they didn't do very well. Sacramento was outrebounded 47-36 and surrendered 52.4 percent shooting by the Blazers from the field.
The status of Kings forward Garrett Temple remains questionable. He's missed two straight games with a back injury.
The news hasn't been much better for the Nets. Brooklyn (20-42, 13th in the Eastern Conference) has dropped eight of nine, including a 129-123 decision against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday
The Nets have several issues, primary among them their rebounding. Brooklyn allows 10.3 offensive rebounds a game, the fourth-worst mark in the NBA, and opponents grab 46 per game against them overall, the league's worst.
Brooklyn is starting to get healthy. Forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (14.2 points per game) and Caris LeVert (11.7 points) returned from lengthy absences Tuesday and have scored 21 and 24 points in their first two games back from a concussion and groin injury, respectively.
"I feel like I'm all the way back," LeVert told the New York Post. "As far as rhythm and everything, I'm still working my way back, especially defensively trying to be in the right spots. I know the offense will come."
Center Jahlil Okafor has missed four straight games with left calf tightness. It remains unclear whether he will play against Sacramento.
Updated February 28, 2018