Record: 7 - 10 (.412)
Standings: Fourth, Southeast
At Home: 3 - 6
At Road: 4 - 4
Streak: L 1
Record: 8 - 9 (.471)
Standings: Fifth, Pacific
At Home: 6 - 3
At Road: 2 - 6
Streak: L 4
Two struggling teams missing key stars will face each other for the first time this season Thursday when the Miami Heat visit the Sacramento Kings.
The Heat (7-10) will again be without Shaquille O'Neal, while the Kings (8-9) are expected to be without Ron Artest for a fourth consecutive game.
Miami has gone 4-7 without their All-Star center, who is expected to be sidelined until at least Dec. 23 after undergoing left knee surgery Nov. 17. Sacramento has lost all three games without Artest, who has a sore lower back, and its four-game slide is its longest since acquiring the forward Jan. 26 from Indiana.
The Heat's latest setback came Tuesday in a 101-97 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers for their second loss in three games.
``I felt like we played well enough to win,'' said Heat forward Udonis Haslem, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double. ``Unfortunately, I felt like we just had breakdowns at the wrong times. We tried to fight our way back into it, but we just couldn't get over the hump.''
O'Neal's absence has pushed Alonzo Mourning into the starting lineup, and the 36-year-old center is averaging 10.8 points with 7.0 rebounds. He also had his first double-double since March 21 in Tuesday's loss, totaling 16 points and 11 boards.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had 33 points, leads the team with 27.6 points and 7.8 assists per game. He averaged 27.2 points and 6.7 assists last season to lead the Heat to their first NBA crown.
The fourth-year guard - who has averaged 23.3 points and 7.8 assists in four lifetime games against the Kings - will try to exploit a Sacramento defense that has allowed opponents to shoot 49.5 percent from the field, including 47.1 percent from 3-point range.
Miami has won four straight at Arco Arena and five in a row overall against Sacramento.
The Kings' woes continued Tuesday with a 127-102 loss at Phoenix, allowing more than 100 points for the third time in four games.
``We have to look and see what's wrong, what we need to do,'' Kings forward Corliss Williamson said. ``We always talk about the effort, but of course you can't continue to talk about it, you have to eventually go out and put forth the right effort, do what you need to do to give yourself an opportunity to win.''
The offense has sputtered, averaging 94.8 points during the skid, while shooting just 24.1 percent (14-for-58) from 3-point range. The team was scoring 102.3 points per game in a three-game winning streak prior to the slide.
Along with Artest, the Kings will be without Maurice Taylor, who will serve the first game of his five-game suspension for violating terms of the league's anti-drug program.
The forward has been suspended twice previously with a five-game suspension in 2002-03 and a six-game penalty in 2003-04.
He has only played in four games for the Kings this season since being signed as a free agent after the New York Knicks' waived him in preseason.
IMO Muss really blew it with Miller and I think Bibby on the bench while Wade was out early in the 4th quarter. That was our chance to really make a run. And then we got robbed by the refs too. Ehh I dont agree with Charles, we aren't talentless, we aren't an old team, we just need a shotblocker.
Why does Reef take outside shots? Geeze, it's like the ball is laser guided to be horizontal as soon as it leaves his hand. It's physics: the less arc a shot has, the less chance it has to go in.
Bibby got foulded ONLY AFTER THE SHOT WAS UP. He didn't try to make that shot, he should have, but he went for the foul, and it ended up costing the game. Every time Bibby drives, he tries to draw a foul instead of trying to make the basket.
Point blank WE SUCK DECK!!! easy as dat!!! ...... what we need is a post up player/blocker ....i'm all for trading bibby cisco and Pot for gooden varejao and snow then trade SAR kenny and brad to Denver for Joe smith Camby and that kielz kid (however u spell his name/what ever his name is)