The Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings continue to struggle, though the Eastern Conference figures to prove much more forgiving for the Nets if they can put together a better second half of the season.
The West likely won’t be nearly as kind to the Kings, especially if they can’t take better care of the ball.
Brooklyn seeks a second win in 10 games Wednesday night at Sacramento, which is trying to avoid matching a season-high five-game losing streak.
The Nets (17-24) are averaging 90.8 points during a league-worst 1-8 stretch since Jan. 4. They were almost equally as bad at the halfway mark in 2013-14 with a 19-22 record before winning 25 of their final 41 games to finish sixth in the East. They’re currently in eighth place.
"Well, in the first 41 we didn’t win enough games," coach Lionel Hollins said, "and in the second 41 I hope we win a lot more."
Brooklyn ended a seven-game skid by winning 102-80 at Washington on Friday as Jarrett Jack and Brook Lopez scored 26 points apiece. Jack had 22 points against the Wizards on Saturday at home but Lopez, whose name has been the subject of trade rumors, scored 15 on 5-of-13 shooting.
Joe Johnson, the team’s leading scorer with 15.9 points per game, was 6 of 17 and is averaging 11.8 points on 32.1 percent shooting over his last six games. He could be primed for a better second half after shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range over the team’s final 41 games last season.
Deron Williams is expected to sit for the eighth time in nine games with fractured rib cartilage, though he traveled with the team for its three-game trip that also includes games against the Clippers on Thursday and Utah on Saturday.
The 12th-place Kings (16-25) have lost four in a row, though coach Tyrone Corbin was curiously pleased with their showing in Monday’s 98-94 loss at Portland despite the team’s 23 turnovers.
"I thought we fought hard tonight and gave ourselves a chance to win. It’s a disappointing loss, but I’m happy with the effort from the guys," Corbin said. "If we play and compete this hard every night, we’ve got a chance."
Sacramento has averaged a plus-12.5 rebounding margin during its four-game skid, but has largely squandered that edge by averaging 19.0 turnovers with opponents scoring 22.3 points off of them. Portland scored 29 points off turnovers Monday, helping negate the Kings’ 53-35 advantage on the boards.
They held the Trail Blazers to 39.8 percent shooting but were outscored 31-19 in the fourth quarter while committing eight turnovers.
DeMarcus Cousins committed five turnovers before fouling out for a league-leading fifth time and has been charged with 22 turnovers in three games during the losing streak. His 4.3 turnovers per game trail only Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams at 4.4.
Cousins had five of Sacramento’s 21 turnovers in a 107-99 loss at Brooklyn on Dec. 29, its fifth loss in six meetings.
The Kings are 17 of 64 (26.6 percent) from 3-point range during their skid and Ben McLemore is stuck in a particularly tough stretch. He’s 8 of 40 from deep over his last eight games after previously shooting a team-best 40.4 percent.