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Losing streaks collide as Nets take on Kings


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The Brooklyn Nets get a break from the heavyweights of the Western Conference when they complete a road back-to-back with a visit to the California capital to take on the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

Playing without Kevin Durant, Joe Harris and now LaMarcus Aldridge, the Nets have opened a five-game Western swing with losses to the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns, the teams with the two best records in the West.

The trip ends with two more traditional Western powers — the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets — so the Nets find themselves with a heightened sense of urgency as they take on a reeling Kings squad that has lost seven straight.

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One question mark remains James Harden, who returned from a two-game absence caused by hamstring and hand injuries to play 37 minutes on Tuesday in Brooklyn’s 121-111 loss at Phoenix.

Harden didn’t shoot particularly well (6-for-19), but he still managed to contribute 22 points, 10 assists and five rebounds to the cause.

Nets coach Steve Nash has his fingers crossed in terms of Harden’s availability for the rest of the trip.

“I think he’s feeling less (hand) irritation,” Nash said, “so the inflammation’s come down. Therefore, the irritation is much better, and he feels like he’s functioning well, so we’re very hopeful.”

Harden joined forces with Kyrie Irving against the Suns, with the star point guard making his ninth appearance during his road-only season. He had a team-high 26 points.

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Brooklyn is now 4-5 with Irving in the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Kings return home after an 0-5 trip that featured narrow losses to a couple of Eastern big boys — the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers — amid blowout losses to the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks.

The trip took a physical toll as well, with Marvin Bagley III sustaining a sprained ankle Saturday at Philadelphia. He has been ruled out of the Brooklyn game.

The Kings played the entire trip without De’Aaron Fox, who was sidelined due to a sore left ankle. He had 27 points in 37 minutes in Sacramento’s most recent home game — a 133-131 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 19 — and might return for what will be the first of five straight games in Northern California.

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The only non-home game in the run will occur Thursday, when the Kings complete a back-to-back with a quick jaunt to San Francisco to face the Golden State Warriors.

Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry hopes a return to familiar ground, where his team beat the Los Angeles Lakers on its last homestand, helps his guys regain some energy.

“The losses are stacking up,” Gentry responded when asked if his players had thrown in the towel on the season. “That is something they would have to answer individually. We sure hope not because the opportunity that we have to be an NBA player and the lifestyle that it affords you, I think you have to be crazy to quit.”

The Nets and Kings will meet in a rematch Feb. 14 in Brooklyn.

–Field Level Media

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