The Sacramento Kings aim to end a four-game losing streak Thursday night when they host the Detroit Pistons.
The Kings dropped a 116-106 decision Monday at Minnesota, continuing a slide that began after Sacramento posted five wins in a row and seven in eight games.
“We’re going through a tough time again,” Kings coach Luke Walton said in his press conference following Monday’s loss to the Timberwolves, who are in last place in the Western Conference. “We’ve been here before and we’ll fight our way out of it again.”
The winning streak preceding Sacramento’s current downturn boosted the Kings’ prospects for landing a spot in the NBA playoffs play-in tournament.
Entering play on Wednesday, the Kings sat two games behind Golden State for 10th place in the conference.
The play-in tournament will pit the teams placed from Nos. 7-to-10 into a two-game format to determine the final two seeds from each conference in the postseason.
Eastern Conference cellar dweller Detroit comes to Sacramento at the midway point of a Western road trip. The Pistons routed Oklahoma City on the first leg of a back-to-back Monday, 132-108, but dropped the second leg Tuesday at Denver, 134-119.
The Nuggets dominated much of the way, building a lead that swelled to as many as 28 points before Detroit made a late-game push.
Jerami Grant scored 29 points in his return to Denver, where he played in the 2019-20 season, and rookie Saddiq Bey made 6-of-12 from 3-point range en route to 25 points.
“He’s just a keeper,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said of Bey in his postgame press conference. “He’s part of our building blocks and a great kid. That’s something I’m happy to see him achieve in his rookie year.”
Casey used a deep rotation, with eight bench players seeing minutes and all scoring at least two points. Hamidou Diallo, acquired in a trade from Oklahoma City last month, finished with his second-lowest scoring output (eight points) since joining the Pistons but is averaging 12.8 per game in his six games with the club.
Sacramento enters Thursday’s matchup behind De’Aaron Fox, who scored at least 30 points in four straight games near the end of March.
Fox is averaging 24.6 points and 7.1 assists per game, both team highs. Rookie Tyrese Haliburton recently joined Fox in the backcourt as starting point guard, taking over those duties consistently since March 17.
Haliburton is in the mix for the NBA Rookie of the Year award with averages of 13.1 points, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He finished with nine points and seven assists against a Minnesota team featuring its own Rookie of the Year contender, Anthony Edwards.