Kings-Warriors Preview

The Associated Press

Despite helping the Golden State Warriors to a 10-game improvement in 2010-11, head coach Keith Smart was not retained after the team failed to make the postseason.

New Warriors coach Mark Jackson could be hard pressed to change that trend if his team can't improve its late-game play.

Smart faces his former team for the first time on Tuesday night in Oakland, Calif., where the Kings will try to snap a season-high four-game losing streak.

After spending seven seasons as a Warriors assistant, Smart took over for Don Nelson, who had the final year of his contract bought out, in September 2010. Smart led the Warriors to a 36-46 record, but a 12th-place finish in the Western Conference was not the progress new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber had in mind.

The Warriors, who have been to the postseason once in 17 seasons, then hired Jackson in June.

While he continues to transition from the TV announcing booth to his first coaching job, Smart took over coaching duties in Sacramento after Paul Westphal was fired earlier this month.

The Kings (6-14) are just 4-9 since Smart was promoted from assistant, and four of those losses have been by at least 27 points. The Kings new coach, though, likes where is team is heading following Saturday's 96-93 loss at Utah.

"The hardest thing in the world for me as a coach, our staff, is to not get the win when you do everything right," Smart said after rookie Jimmer Fredette airballed a three-point attempt with 4.2 seconds left that would have given the Kings the lead. "... These are the things that are going to help our team grow. We've got to go through the pain part first to get to the growth part, and eventually get to the fruit."

The Kings, who are 2-10 on the road, snapped a four-game skid at Golden State and split the four-game season series with a 104-103 victory April 10.

Sacramento last dropped five straight during a six-game skid from March 2-12.

The Warriors (6-12), meanwhile, are also trying to get back on track after losing for the fourth time in five games on Friday, 120-109 to Oklahoma City.

Golden State has been outscored by an average of 6.6 in the fourth quarter of its last five games, averaging only 23.0 points in the final 12 minutes.

"We don't have the luxury to be able to turn it on when we want," said Jackson, whose team plays at Sacramento on Saturday following its season-high six-game homestand. "It's a good lesson for us.''

Warriors leading scorer Monta Ellis could use a bounce-back game after totaling 17 points in the last two contests. He averaged 21.5 versus Sacramento last season, scoring just seven on April 10 when he suffered a season-ending concussion after colliding with Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins.

Kings guard Tyreke Evans, who scored a season-high 31 points Saturday, averaged 24.5 with 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds as these Pacific Division rivals split two games in Oakland in 2010-11.

The Warriors won both of their games against Sacramento last season in overtime.

The all-time series is tied at 181 games.

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