|Kings hoping to finish strong at home|
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- They aren't going to the playoffs for the 12th straight season, and the Sacramento Kings figure they won't end their dubious streak until they can protect their home court.
With five of their final six home games to be contested over the next 10 days -- including one against the lottery-bound Atlanta Hawks on Thursday at the Golden 1 Center and another against one (Dallas) of three teams in the Western Conference with a worse mark than them -- the Kings will get a chance to see how far they've come.
One step would be avoiding the same letdown they showed against the Detroit Pistons on the night they kicked off a six-game homestand Monday.
"It was a tough game for us," coach Dave Joerger told reporters after Sacramento's 106-90 loss. "It's that type of game we gotta let roll off of us."
The Kings (23-49) knew this would be a development year, and they seem pleased with the progress of players such as guards Buddy Hield (in his second year), De'Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic (both rookies). They are likely not as pleased with their inability to have had more consistency on the home court, where their 12-23 mark is better than only Phoenix's 9-27.
By the time this homestand is over, Sacramento will have played 12 of 16 contests on the home floor. They are 4-3 in those 12 games, but the loss to Detroit kept the Kings from recording a third straight home win for the first time since November.
Bogdanovic did not the Pistons because of a hamstring injury, and the team has not updated his availability for Thursday's contest. Bogdanovic hadn't sat out a game since Oct. 21.
Forward Vince Carter (24,817 career points), winding down his 20th season, will continue his climb toward Jerry West and 21st on the league's all-time scoring list. He passed Patrick Ewing (24,815) with a seven-point game against Detroit. West has 25,192.
"I don't care what generation you talk to in this game, they know who these guys are" Carter told the Sacramento Bee. "To say that you passed them in scoring, it doesn't get any better than that."
The Hawks (21-50) say they continue to have their eyes squarely on their own win column, even if their fans seem more concerned with the draft lottery.
Atlanta's 99-94 win at Utah on Tuesday momentarily halted that momentum. By winning, the Hawks moved into a tie with the Orlando Magic for the worst mark in the Eastern Conference, and, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, set off a torrent of unrest on social media from their fan base.
"Guess we should our heads down when we win and be happy when we lose stop it," Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney said on Twitter, according to the Journal-Constitution. "We are still enjoying the season and having fun. And trying to win games."
Guard Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 41 points against Utah, the first 40-point output by any Atlanta player since Joe Johnson in 2008.
Despite the struggles, Atlanta is the among the league's best in forcing turnovers (15.6 per game), and they caused 16 Utah turnovers. The Kings turn over the ball 13.3 times per game.