It hasn’t been a particularly proud season for either of northern California’s NBA franchises, but as both clubs prepare for another spring without the playoffs, perhaps one will seize local bragging rights.
After the teams played a three-overtime marathon in their last meeting, the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors will face off twice in the next five days, starting Wednesday night in Oakland as each team tries to rebound after blowing a late lead in its most recent game.
While the rebuilding Kings (16-57) have the fewest wins in the league, the Warriors’ disappointing campaign has been marked by injury, with several of stars missing considerable time.
Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette and Andris Biedrins were all out for the Warriors’ fifth straight loss, as Golden State (25-49) blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead and lost 114-109 at home to Memphis on Monday.
Jackson, Golden State’s leading scorer, is out for the season after foot surgery, and reserves Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright are also injured, meaning the team had eight players in uniform against the Grizzlies.
“Once we get to playing with one another and get to feel each other out, we’re going to be good,” Warriors guard Monta Ellis said. “We’ve got to come together and play as one.”
That has not happened - especially defensively, where Golden State has been even worse than usual. The Warriors allow more points (112.5 per game) than any other NBA team, and opponents are averaging 116.4 points on 48.4 percent shooting since the All-Star break.
Coach Don Nelson’s team is 6-14 over that span, and its current five-game skid matches its longest since a nine-game slide from Nov. 21-Dec. 6.
The Kings beat Phoenix 126-118 on Sunday, and they seemed primed to earn back-to-back victories for the first time since early November when Beno Udrih hit a go-ahead jumper with 1.7 seconds left Tuesday against New Orleans.
But Sacramento lost 111-110 when wide-open Rasual Butler drained a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We didn’t do what we talked about doing on that play,” Kings interim coach Kenny Natt said. “We’ve had a lot of pain this year. It hurts a little more from a standpoint that we played as well as we did, Beno hit that shot, and then we didn’t execute on defense.”
Many of the franchise’s former stars were in attendance on the night when the team retired Vlade Divac’s No. 21, but the current club looks a lot different from the ones that had four straight 55-win seasons from 2000-04.
The Kings are 5-31 on the road, although one of those victories was a 135-133, triple-overtime win at Golden State on Jan. 14. Sacramento’s top two scorers in that game, Brad Miller and John Salmons, have since been traded to Chicago.
The Warriors also lost 115-98 at Sacramento on Nov. 9. The teams will meet again Sunday in California’s capital.