Nets-Kings Preview

While his team has held five consecutive opponents to fewer than

100 points, New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson would like to see

better results on the offensive end.

There’s a good chance that could happen against the slumping

Sacramento Kings.

New Jersey continues its four-game western swing Friday night

when it faces the Kings, who are trying to snap a six-game losing

streak and avoid their longest skid at Arco Arena in two

seasons.

The Nets (4-7) are among the top 10 in the league in scoring

defense at 95.9 points per game and field-goal percentage defense

at 44.3. Johnson’s team, though, is averaging a league-worst 92.8

points on 44.3 percent shooting.

Looking to build on a 110-86 road victory over the Los Angeles

Clippers on Monday, New Jersey lost 98-88 to Utah on Wednesday.

“We hold them to (40.2) percent shooting from the field and give

up 98 points,” Johnson said. “But we couldn’t drop it in the ocean

as a team tonight. Shooting (37.6) percent from the field is not

good.”

That number could improve against a Kings team that has allowed

three consecutive opponents to shoot better than 51.9 percent.

Sacramento (3-7) is yielding 106.0 points per game and has the

league’s worst field-goal percentage defense at 49.2. Coach Paul

Westphal’s club has been especially bad in the second quarter, with

opponents shooting 57.1 percent.

The Kings were outscored 40-22 in the second period of a 113-106

home loss to New York on Wednesday and trailed at halftime for the

10th consecutive game.

“We have to go back to the drawing board and play better

defense,” forward Carl Landry said after scoring 21 points and

grabbing nine rebounds. “Defense is what wins games in the NBA. We

weren’t playing like a team in the second quarter and lost our

focus on defense. The first quarter was fine but the second quarter

got away from us.”

The fourth quarter got away from Sacramento in a 106-100 loss in

New Jersey on Oct. 29. Leading by eight with 3:40 left, the Kings

were outscored 17-3 the rest of the way.

Nets guard Devin Harris scored six of his 21 points during that

late-game run, and the Nets shot 52.5 percent overall to improve to

2-0 for the first time in eight years.

Matched up with Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 12

points before fouling out with 3:26 left, Nets center Brook Lopez

had a season-high 29 with six boards.

Lopez has scored 26.3 points per game with 10.0 rebounds in his

last three versus Sacramento, and had 24 and 11 in a 109-96 loss at

Arco Arena on Nov. 27.

Sacramento has won 12 of 14 at home in this series, but it has

equaled last season’s longest skid at Arco at five. The Kings’ last

0-6 stretch at home was an eight-game slide from Nov. 11-Dec. 6,

2008.

Making his season debut after serving a one-game suspension for

a reckless driving arrest over the summer, Tyreke Evans had 18

points and seven assists against New Jersey last month.

Evans, the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year, scored a team-high 21

with eight boards in the Nets’ last visit to Sacramento.

New Jersey, which closes its trip Saturday against Denver, is

seeking its third road win. The Nets didn’t reach that total last

season until Feb. 27.