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Thunder-Kings Preview

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The Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder got blown out in their last games. While that's familiar territory for both clubs, it's becoming far too commonplace for Kings coach Kenny Natt's liking.

The Kings look to avoid their first nine-game skid in more than a decade as they host the Thunder on Sunday in a matchup of last-place teams.

Sacramento (10-38) has given up 115.1 points per game during its eight-game losing streak, which has matched a season high. The Kings shot 36.8 percent from the field in their 109-88 home loss to Chicago on Friday night, their largest margin of defeat during the skid.

"This was very unacceptable," said Natt, whose team has lost 20 of 23 to fall to the bottom of the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. "We're going to do whatever we have to do to make this change because it's not fair to anyone - as a team, as an organization, for the fans - the whole bit. We all deserve a lot better, so from that standpoint I was very disappointed in our effort."

The Kings haven't lost more than eight in a row since a 12-game skid from March 9-April 3, 1998. To snap its current drought, though, Sacramento will likely need a better performance than Friday's. The Kings committed 22 turnovers and allowed the Bulls to shoot a season-high 55.6 percent.

"I would say it was a terrible effort across the board," Kings center Spencer Hawes said. "We came out and let them do what they wanted to do. I don't think there is any good we can take out of this game."

The Kings won three of four meetings with the Oklahoma City franchise last season to improve to 8-2 against it since Dec. 10, 2005. Both of Sacramento's losses in that stretch came at Arco Arena, where the Kings have lost four straight to fall to 7-16.

While the Kings are reeling, the Thunder (11-36) have shown signs of improvement. After a 5-32 start that left it at the bottom of the Northwest Division, Oklahoma City has won six of its last 10.

The Thunder, though, were overmatched in a 110-90 road loss to Utah on Friday night. The young Oklahoma City team had 14 assists to Utah's 32 and turned the ball over 25 times - one shy of its season high.

"We didn't do a good job matching their physical play. We needed to play hard," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We turned it over too many times and it was because they were physical with us."

The loss - the Thunder's first by more than 10 points since Jan. 7 - overshadowed another big game from Kevin Durant. The reigning Rookie of the Year had 29 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while going 10-for-19 from the field. He's averaging 31.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 51.1 percent over his last seven games.

Kings shooting guard Kevin Martin, the team's leading scorer with 23.9 points per game, has connected on just 38.7 percent of his shots over his last nine games.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 1, 2009


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