The Sacramento Kings would like to make one last charge at ending a 12-season streak of missing the playoffs.
But the Kings are running out of time and have little margin for error.
Sacramento looks to record consecutive wins for the first time in more than five weeks as well as get back to the .500 mark when it hosts the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Sacramento lost nine of 12 games to fall further off the pace, but Sunday's 129-102 whipping of the visiting Chicago Bulls kept the Kings six games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"Whether we talk about it or not, it feels like every game is a must-win coming out of the (All-Star) break," Sacramento coach Dave Joerger told reporters after Sunday's triumph. "Just to have a little bit of mental relief is good for us at this point in the season."
The Nets (36-36) are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference but have dropped the first three contests of a seven-game road trip.
Brooklyn lost to Oklahoma City (108-96) and Utah (114-98) to begin the trip and fell 119-116 to the Clippers on Sunday night when Sixth Man extraordinaire Lou Williams buried the winning 3-point basket as time expired.
"It was a heck of shot. I don't know -- 35-foot shot," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters of the final sequence. "We definitely didn't want to foul him, because we know how good he is at drawing fouls in those situations. I think we forced him into something tougher than normal."
Brooklyn showed some late-game resolve as it trailed by 10 points with 62 seconds remaining before scoring 10 straight points to knot the score prior to Williams' winning shot.
"I don't believe in moral victories, so to me this is a tough loss," veteran small forward DeMarre Carroll told reporters. "We've got to learn from it. But at the end of the day we've got to get ready for Sacramento."
Carroll scored 22 points against the Clippers, while All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell led the way with 32. Russell made six 3-pointers and also had 10 assists.
Russell was on his game in the first meeting against the Kings as he contributed 31 points and eight assists in a 123-94 home trouncing on Jan. 21.
Meanwhile, rookie forward Marvin Bagley III stood out for the Kings in the rout of the Bulls. The No. 2 overall pick in last June's draft had 21 points and nine rebounds.
"I'm just doing whatever I can to help the team," Bagley said after the win. "We had a tough couple games on the road. We had to lock in. This was a must-win game for us and we were doing whatever we could to get over the hump."
Shooting guard Buddy Hield scored 16 points and made two 3-pointers to increase his season total to 231, just nine shy of the club mark set by Peja Stojakovic during the 2003-04 campaign.
Brooklyn guard Spencer Dinwiddie struggled badly in the loss to the Clippers as he was 2 of 16 shooting while scoring 13 points.
--Field Level Media