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Nets make second stop of their road trip in Sacramento

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Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Well I’ll be. The Brooklyn Nets got the primetime slot on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors and put together an incredibly impressive showing and came away with a 17 point win. It was their second win in a row and successful first stop on their five game road trip.

The opponent tonight will be the Sacramento Kings. It’s been a long time since the Kings got close to the playoffs, but they might find their way back this year. They didn't help the cause after suffering a loss at home to the Memphis Grizzlies last night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Late night affair so we're getting started after 10 PM.

Injuries

Iman Shumpert, Nicolas Claxton, and Spencer Dinwiddie are out. DeAndre Jordan missed Saturday’s game due to personal reasons. He’s probably tonight. Kevin Durant is out at least the next two games with what’s being described as a “mild” hamstring strain.

Marvin Bagley missed Friday and last night's game with a calf injury. No word on his status for this one.

The game

Back to backs are hard enough, but West Coast ones are even more daunting. When the Nets wrap this one up, they'll head to Phoenix to take on a much improved Suns team. These are the types of games that test just how good you are.

Bruce Brown with the starters was a nice little adjustment made by Steve Nash on Saturday, and it might be the key to a smallball lineup that could make some noise come playoff time. Brown was able to take full advantage of all the attention the Big Three and scored a nifty 18 points. Perhaps more importantly, he grabbed seven rebounds and played spunky defense in his 21 minutes of playing time. Nash hasn’t committed to fully incorporating new big men Norvel Pelle and Noah Vonleh into the rotation as of yet, but he’ll need to do so fast. Considering the Nets have a hell of a matchup awaiting them in Los Angeles on Thursday night, it’ll help immensely if the team’s bigs get in formation fast. That said, the more the Nets play Brown, the better.

If you play at Brooklyn’s pace, you will likely lose. The Nets have the personnel, talent, and long range success to run it up at a moment’s notice. If they’re even halfway competent on defense, good luck to the rest of the NBA.

We’ll get to take a look at a leading Rookie of the Year candidate tonight. Tyrese Haliburton won Rookie of the Month for December and January as the young guard has started to establish himself as a solid pro contributor already. It’s been a long time since it looked like the Kings were heading in the right direction, but with players like Haliburton and Fox, it looks like they’re starting to get right.

The Kings currently possess the worst defensive rating in the league and are in the bottom five (along with the Nets) in forcing turnovers. Brooklyn’s bugaboo has been turning the ball over themselves, but even with that, they’re third in offensive rating. If they take care of the ball like they did in their previous two games, they should be able to go off and pull away early.

Five years into his career, and I still wonder about Buddy Hield. He’s shooting a career low from the field and his three point percentages have dropped each of the past three seasons. This month, he’s only shot above 40 percent from the floor once. There’s some chatter about selling high on him, but truthfully, would there be a team out there looking to bring him in if he continues to struggle? Maybe, but I’m just not seeing it right now.

Player to watch: De'Aaron Fox

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this sounds like something a member of the Nets would say:

“It’s been great, we’ve been playing well. Defensively, we got so much better. Offensively, I mean I think we were fine. We were in a good place offensively, but defense, if you’re giving 120-130 points, you’re not winning games. You’re not gonna win games in this league. After having those two days of extra practice, then we hit the East Coast for a trip. We’ve been well, we’ve been off really well.”

Good defense is universal.

One continued sign of growth in Fox’s game is the ball control. Each year he’s been in the league, he’s managed to decrease his turnover rate. He’s driving to the rim like usual (seventh in the league), but barely 20 percent of his field goal attempts have come inside of three feet this year, which would be a career low. When I was looking up Fox’s numbers, I saw that he’s driving to the rim the same amount of times as usual this year, but his shots inside of three feet are at a career low. I wonder if that will continue tonight or will he make his living at the rim. Fox did miss his first game of the year on Friday due to a knee injury, but he should be good.

Kyrie Irving keeps on keeping on. After the game, he mentioned something that we all kind of suspected:

This setup works for everybody. James Harden sets everyone up, Irving gets all the buckets. Irving has continued to be exceptional this season and even as he’s dealing with a nagging finger injury, it hasn’t slowed him down over the past few games. As Irving, Harden, and Kevin Durant continue getting comfortable with each other and define their roles, things will look even better for the Nets.

From the Vault

On Friday, Judas and the Black Messiah was released for viewing. It tells the story of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, and William O’Neal, the informant that helped the FBI, which ultimately led to Hampton’s assassination in his home in 1969. I don’t know as much about Hampton as I should, so let’s listen to him talk about the importance of education prior to action.

More reading: Sactown Royalty