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Nets look to avoid another loss vs Kings

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The losses keep piling up. The Nets fell behind big early, made a valiant comeback effort, but ended up losing by double digits anyways. It was their fifth straight loss and things have managed to get even worse for the club. This is the first night of a back-to-back for the Nets. They're in Philadelphia to play the 76ers on Saturday night.

Coming into Brooklyn will be the Sacramento Kings. They were expected to be a catastrophe this season, but have managed to hold it together and are competing for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They lost their last game, a 107-102 decision to the Bulls in Sacramento. This is the first night a four game road trip. They travel to Boston after this game to play the Celtics on Super Bowl Sunday.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Chris McCullough will dress, but is unlikely to play tonight.

DeMarcus Cousins appeared to injure his right knee on Wednesday, but continued to play. He should be good to go tonight.

The game

Check the stats

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Sacramento

Record

12-38 21-27

Pace

96.65 101.99

Offensive Efficiency

98.6 102.9

Defensive Efficiency

106.2 105.4

Turnover Rate

15.2 16.1

Assist Rate

16.7 17.7

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.9 24.8

Rebound Rate

49.5 51

Free Throw Rate

23.2 30.3

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48 50.7

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

52.3 51.5

Sacramento won the first meeting back in November.

One theme of the Nets season has been their inability to play consistently throughout a game. It feels like every time a team goes on a moderate run, the Nets are out of the game. Joe Johnson discussed that after the Indiana game and said:

"It seems like every game we have a mental lapse or there's just turnovers," Joe Johnson said after the loss. "I have no idea. I'm sorry. I don't know. We just hurt ourselves from time to time."

When you're a team like the Nets, you can't afford to have mental lapses and extended cold spells. They're not good enough to overcome them and when the bench comes in, they immediately fall into a hole. Maybe the return of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and the debut of McCullough can solve that problem, but it's unlikely.

Rudy Gay has been good as a member of the Kings since he came over in December of 2013, but the Kings would be willing to trade him if the deal is right. Gay works well as a team's second option and is shooting a career high 47.3 percent from the field this season. He will be matched up with Johnson, a player who that hasn't been mentioned in any rumors as of yet but might be someone to keep an eye on at the deadline.

The Nets will be looking for a point guard this summer. Rajon Rondo will be a free agent this summer. Would they be a good fit? Who knows. Rondo has rebounded from his disastrous stint in Dallas and is leading the league in assists at 11.6 a night. He's never been a good three point shooter, but has shot a career high 36 percent from downtown. The Nets have had issues getting Brook Lopez the ball, and a player like Rondo would fix that problem instantly. On the other hand, Rondo can be an asshole and that creates problems of its own.

As for McCullough, dressing is a big step on his way to playing. "“It’s been tough,” said McCullough. “We’ve played 40-something games already. That’s half the season sitting on the bench.”

The 6'11" forward is expected to sit Friday and Saturday and play Monday vs. Denver.

Player to watch: DeMarcus Cousins

You can make a pretty convincing case for Boogie being the best big man in the NBA. He's a bruiser on the inside, lives at the free throw line, can run an offense from the high post, and has been working hard to expand his game out to the three point line. Boogie's shooting a respectable 33.1 percent on three attempts a game from deep, and if he can improve on that, it'll be game over for other big men. He's gotten criticism for his aggressiveness, but you want players to be as engaged and passionate as Cousins. For as good as he already is, there is room for improvement. Omer Khan made this observation in his postgame report:

Boogie can put up huge counting stats, but in order to be efficient he can't be left isolated on the perimeter to fend for himself over and over. He needs to have his game defined for him, and all of this freelancing is killing him.

He appeared to suffer a knee injury against the Bulls, but he finished the game and managed to do this to Taj Gibson

Yeah man.

This figures to be the toughest matchup Brook Lopez will see this year. Brook has been sensational over the past three weeks and is the only Net that has been able to play consistently well as of late. Cousins leads the NBA in fouls per game, and if the Nets can get Boogie out of the game early, it'll make things easier for Lopez in the second half.

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