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Nets try to snap out of losing streak vs. Kings in another late one

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Sacramento Kings v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

It’s starting to pile up. The Brooklyn Nets put up a heck of a fight against the Phoenix Suns, but they couldn’t get over the hump and took a frustrating loss to begin the month of February. The L was their fifth in a row and while they’ve played well in some of these games, you need actual victories, not moral ones.

The opponent tonight will be the Sacramento Kings. Things are chaotic in Sac-Town as the team fired Luke Walton in November and replaced him with Alvin Gentry on an interim basis. Technically speaking, the Kings are within striking distance of the play in spot, but it feels like they’re a ways away from respectability. They finished up a five game road trip at MSG on Monday night against the New York Knicks, but lost by 20 points. It was their seventh straight loss and they wound up going 0-5 on their five game road trip.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Late night affair so we’re getting started after 10 p.m.

Injuries

No Joe Harris or Kevin Durant. LaMarcus Aldridge is out as well. Kyrie Irving is eligible. It will be his 10th game of the season.

Marvin Bagley III is out with a left ankle sprain. Terance Davis is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right wrist. DeAaron Fox is questionable with left ankle soreness.

The game

When this one wraps up, the Kings are heading back on the road to take on the Golden State Warriors as the second half of a back-to-back.

The Kings had been chasing after Ben Simmons, but walked away from negotiations with the Philadelphia 76ers after they couldn’t work something out. Instead, they’ve centered their attention on Jerami Grant of the Pistons and Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner of the Pacers. There have also been reports of them trying to move Bagley, Harrison Barnes, Richaun Holmes, and Buddy Hield. The trade deadline is on February 10 so time is of the essence.

De’Aaron Fox finds himself in an interesting spot these days. He’s just coming back from an ankle injury that kept him out of action for a while. However, the big question facing him and the team is how the fit between him and Tyrese Haliburton will be now and in the future. Tom Ziller of Good Morning It’s Basketball has more:

What sort of players would work with Fox and Haliburton? Fox is an aggro rim attacker who gets to the line at a good pace but can’t shoot from deep. He’s like a young Russell Westbrook with the volume turned down to 7 (as opposed to Westbrook’s constant 11) and without the leaping ability and strength. Haliburton is far, far less aggressive — often to his detriment — but can shoot and is proving to be a fairly good playmaker. Let’s call him new Malcolm Brogdon.

Neither defends well at the point of attack. Fox is a bit of a ball hawk and Haliburton has good instincts overall, but you need a three who can defend high-scoring guards if you are building around these two … or Haliburton needs to step up the on-ball defense. Mitchell is a nice-to-have for this purpose but starting all three would force Fox and Haliburton to guard much bigger players on many nights, and they struggle enough against players their own size.

Figuring that out will determine where the franchise will be for the next ten years.

The Kings don’t allow many wide open 3-pointers (about 16 a night), but teams have cashed in on 40 percent of those attempts, highest in the NBA. Sacramento doesn’t force many turnovers, so if the Nets are patient and the ball is zipping around, they’ll generate their fair share of clean looks. Open looks from three would likely lead to a huge night for one of the best shooters in the NBA, Patty Mills. Mills has shot 43 percent from three point range during this losing streak, so he’s done his part on that side of the ball. The Net dynamic duo will draw a lot of attention, which will give him the freedom he needs to fire away.

With Bagley out, more will be placed on the shoulders of Richaun Holmes. Holmes is the team’s leading rebounder and one of the better ones in the league as well. His game is sixteen feet and he finishes very well at the basket. With Aldridge out, the team will rely on Nic Claxton, DayRon Sharpe and Blake Griffin. The Kings have been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league this season, so Brooklyn has an opportunity to control the flow of the game by winning the battle on the boards. Griffin put together a darn good performance last night with 17 points and perhaps most importantly, he hit a couple of three pointers. Griffin being able to stretch the floor and hit threes at a decent clip will be critical to the Nets’ goals this year. It’s a back-to-back so BG might sit this one.

As it happens, the Nets have done a better job of taking care of the basketball recently. The Kings are near the bottom of the league in forcing turnovers, so Brooklyn will have plenty of opportunities to make the most out of their possessions. The Kings also allow the second most points off of turnovers in the NBA

Buddy Hield is in the midst of a slump and hopes to snap out of it now that he’s back home. Over his last six games, Hield is shooting 23.3 percent from the field and 20 percent from three point range. He’s their sixth man and someone they count on for scoring, so him going cold and going cold right before the deadline is bad for business. Kessler Edwards figures to get another spin guarding a high usage wing and he’s earning more and more trust by the day. I think it’s safe to say Edwards is here to stay.

James Harden had some good moments in his return against the Suns, but he only went 6-19 from the field with four turnovers. He was driving downhill and looking to attack, which is what you always want from him. Just need him to play faster and with more pace. Even without Durant and Harris, the Nets have a dynamic offense at their disposal. Make the most out of it.

Player to watch: Tyrese Haliburton

It’s tough for a second year player to have to fix 16+ years of organizational malpractice. Following their 53 (yes, 53) point loss to the Boston Celtics in January, Haliburton spoke about the team and what he’s going to do next:

“I’m a member of the Sacramento Kings so I’m gonna help fix this. I don’t know how long it’ll take. It ain’t gonna be a day, it ain’t gonna be in a month, but imma be here and we’re gonna make it work. I promise you that.”

He and the rest of the Kings have a long way to go to get the franchise back to decency.

Hali has been having a solid sophomore season, and was named to the Rising Stars game roster for All Star Weekend. Haliburton is a solid three point shooter and does a good job of attacking the basket and finishing at the rim. He’ll be able to put some pressure on Nets defenders so Brooklyn will need to be sharper on that end.

Kyrie Irving put together another stellar performance on Tuesday night. He scored a silky smooth 26 points against the Suns and his series of dazzling moves and finishes made the late night worth it for fans on the East Coast. As an example:

That’s the good stuff.

From the Vault

On February 1, Dan Charnas released Dilla Time, a look at the life and legacy of J. Dilla. Some excerpts have been published online, and they are exemplary. Let’s take a trip back in time and revisit some of his greatness

More reading: Sactown Royalty