Struggling Kings, Knicks face each other playing out season
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- As expected, the losing has come in waves for the Sacramento Kings all season. For the New York Knicks, the unending L's have come only more recently, accentuated by the loss of their best player.
So neither will be in the cheeriest of moods when they get together Sunday night at the Golden 1 Center and play another in the end-of-season string contests.
Sacramento is coming off another in a long stretch of rough nights at home, losing a 98-91 contest to the Utah Jazz on Saturday, a loss marked by so many of their inefficiencies this season. The Kings shot 38.2 percent from the field -- at 45 percent, they rank 18th in the NBA -- and built themselves a hole early, scoring only 17 points in the opening quarter.
That doomed them to their sixth loss in seven games overall, and their fifth in their past six at home, where they've won only nine times all season. Sacramento hasn't won consecutive games since Jan. 23-25, and they've won consecutive games at home only one time all season.
De'Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic continue to provide the offensive highlights. The two combined for 27 points against the Jazz -- "DeAaron is tired of losing already," coach Dave Joerger told reporters earlier this week -- and are averaging 32.2 points between them over Sacramento's past five games.
The Kings have not said whether center Willie Cauley-Stein will return after missing Saturday's contest with a strained lower back. Skal Labissiere had 12 points and 12 rebounds and three blocks in 29 minutes with Cauley-Stein out on Saturday.
New York's season started descending even before All-Star center Kristas Porzingis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Milwaukee on Feb. 6. New York lost 15 of 21 before that happened, and they are 1-9 since then.
Their most recent loss, a 128-105 rout against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, was so bad that Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek lit into them after.
"It was terrible," Hornacek told reporters. "It was a terrible defensive effort."
In their final eight full games with Porzingis, New York's put up 101.8 points a game and allowed only 106.8. In eight games without him, New York has averaged 106.8 points per game and surrendered 118.3.
The latter total became inflated even more in the past three contests, when the Knicks allowed 121, 125 and 128 points, respectively. They allowed 71 points in the second half in the loss to the Clippers
"It's on everybody," Hornacek said. "Defense, it's not about just one or two. It's about everybody. I'm not going to just blame this guy or that guy. It's on everybody."
Tim Hardaway Jr. is averaging 17.9 points to lead New York in scoring in Porzingis' absence. Enes Kanter is averaging 15.3 points and 11.9 rebounds over the same span.
New York (24-39) beat Sacramento 118-91 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 11. Porzingis scored 34 points in that one.
Updated March 4, 2018