Kings open challenging road swing against Nets

While the third game with Kyrie Irving in street clothes can hardly be considered a masterpiece, the Brooklyn Nets were satisfied after doing enough to beat the Charlotte Hornets.

The Nets likely will be without Irving again and are hoping to do enough things right Friday night when they host the Sacramento Kings.

Irving has missed the last three games with a right shoulder impingement sustained in Utah on Nov. 12. He played Nov. 14 in Denver after being questionable, but the injury was serious enough for the Nets to sit him out and be extremely cautious with the star point guard.

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The Nets are 2-1 without Irving, who is averaging 28.5 points. They sandwiched wins over Chicago and Charlotte around an ugly 29-point home loss to Indiana on Monday.

Brooklyn rebounded from Monday's loss with a 101-91 win over the Hornets on Wednesday night, when it found some help for Spencer Dinwiddie, who is starting for Irving. Jarrett Allen led the Nets with season highs of 22 points and 17 rebounds and helped them compensate for shooting 40 percent and scoring just 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Brooklyn is 2-4 in its last six games, since Irving scored 33 points in Portland on Nov. 8. In those games, the offense has faltered at times by averaging 103.8 points, shooting 42.2 percent and 25.8 percent from 3-point range.

"Offensively we are going to have to find something," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "We're just really struggling, five, six, seven games now. We've got to find a way to generate offense."

Sacramento is hardly struggling to score these days and has reversed course from an 0-5 start. The Kings notched their first win three weeks ago by beating the Jazz on a tip-in from Harrison Barnes and are 6-2 in their last eight games.

In losing their first five games, the Kings averaged 98.6 points, shot 41 percent from the field and hit 33.1 percent from 3-point range. During their turnaround, the Kings are significantly improved in all three areas, averaging 110 points, shooting 47.3 percent and 41.1 percent from 3-point range.

They are hoping to keep it rolling heading into a road-heavy swing. Friday starts a four-game road trip and a stretch where the Kings play 12 of their next 16 games on the road.

Sacramento headed into its road trip with a 120-116 win Tuesday night over the Phoenix Suns when Bogdan Bogdanovic hit career highs of seven 3-pointers and 31 points. Bogdanovic's night compensated for a quiet effort from Buddy Hield, who was held to 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting.

Sacramento's latest win was much closer than it would have liked, as it led by 26 at one point before holding on.

"Hopefully we learned a lesson and still got a win," Kings coach Luke Walton said. "I know it didn't feel great the way we played in the second half, but NBA games are never over, and our guys stuck together and scrapped it out."

Bogdanovic and Hield also are showing the same reversals as the Kings from the 0-5 start.

Bogdanovic shot 27.8 percent overall and 26.7 percent from 3-point range while averaging 9.2 points in the first five games, while Hield shot 35 percent in those games.

In the last eight , Bogdanovic is averaging 18.5 points on 51.5 percent shooting and 52.5 percent from deep. In those games, Hield is averaging 21.4 points, shooting 45.3 percent and hitting 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers.

--Field Level Media

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