Fresh off perfect road trip, Nets host scuffling Kings

As the Brooklyn Nets completed an impressive five-game road sweep, Kevin Durant was enjoying the performances of his teammates from the sidelines.

Durant missed the final four games of Brooklyn’s unbeaten road trip with a hamstring injury, but the Nets found other ways to win and will be seeking a seventh straight victory Tuesday night when they host the Sacramento Kings.

Durant played the first game of the trip when the Nets blitzed the Golden State Warriors. His teammates took it from there — they beat Sacramento, rallied from 24 points down in Phoenix, methodically beat the Los Angeles Lakers, and pulled out a 112-108 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday when DeAndre Jordan had the tiebreaking basket in the final minute.

“Winning six in a row, all it does is keep the world silent for a bit,” Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving said. “When we hit a bump in the road, then it’s, ‘What’s going on with the Nets?’ The destination is making it to that main stage and earning our way there.”

The Nets said they do not believe Durant’s injury is serious but it is possible he could be out again Tuesday when 300 fans will be allowed to watch the Nets go for their first seven-game winning streak since Dec. 7-19, 2018.

A major factor in Brooklyn’s hot streak can be attributed to better defense. After a 122-111 loss in Detroit on Feb. 9, the Nets were allowing 118.4 points per game. During the winning streak, however, they are yielding 111 points.

Another factor is James Harden, who totaled 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists Sunday. Harden is averaging 24.9 points on 50.2 percent shooting in 18 games as a Net. In the final four games of the trip, he averaged 31.8 points on 55 percent shooting (44 of 80) from the field.

“We had a lot of frustrating losses,” Harden said. “We don’t want that to haunt us at the end of the season, so we decided to, as a team, collectively pick it up, each individual,” Harden said.

Sacramento heads to Brooklyn in a deep slide. Since winning four straight from Feb. 1-7, Sacramento is on a seven-game losing streak and is trying to avoid its first eight-game skid since Dec. 17-31, 2019.

During their skid, the Kings are allowing 124.3 points per game while taking four losses by double digits.

Sacramento’s latest loss — 128-115 in Milwaukee on Sunday — came when it allowed Giannis Antetokounmpo to get 38 and Khris Middleton to score 32. That came a night after the Kings allowed Zach LaVine to score 38 Saturday in Chicago.

“We’ve got to be better defensively, and we know that,” Sacramento rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton said. “It feels like every game, everybody’s shooting over 50 percent. At some point, people gotta be fed up and we’ve got to come out here and play harder because losing’s not fun.”

Haliburton is averaging 15.5 points in his last 11 games, but leading scorer De’Aaron Fox (22.3 points per game) is averaging 17.2 points in five games since missing a game with a knee injury.

The Kings were without Harrison Barnes (strained left foot) against Milwaukee, and if he sits again, rookie DaQuan Jeffries will likely start for him.


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