The Sacramento Kings and the Seattle SuperSonics are both in last place in their respective divisions, but a string of victories has the Kings thinking about a playoff run.
Sacramento looks to extend its winning streak to a season-high five games when it visits the SuperSonics on Saturday in the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Kings (21-26) are last in the Pacific Division, but have moved closer to the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. They have not missed the playoffs since 1997-98.
"We're always keeping our eye on the standings," said Kevin Martin, who is averaging 24.8 points and has gone 11-for-18 from 3-point range during the win streak. "We have a lot of veterans on this team that know how to play. We have some more games to play, we won't be thinking about the All-Star break until it comes."
Martin scored 29 points and the Kings won four straight for the first time since Nov. 6-15 with an 86-77 victory over Chicago on Thursday.
"Players are feeling good about themselves and where they are right now," said Kings coach Eric Musselman, who returned to the sidelines after serving a two-game suspension for driving under the influence.
Sacramento seeks its first five-game winning streak since March 6-14 of last season as it faces a Seattle (18-31) team it has had little trouble with lately. Martin had 35 points as the Kings beat the Sonics 109-100 on Nov. 24 at KeyArena to win for the fourth straight time in the series.
They are outscoring Seattle by an average of 10.7 points during the win streak, and the Sacramento franchise has not won five in a row over the Sonics since a seven-game run from Feb. 16, 1985-March 27, 1986.
Mike Bibby had 19 points in the win over Seattle in November and is averaging 23.5 points on 18-of-36 shooting from 3-point range during the win streak over the Sonics.
Seattle is in last place in the Northwest Division and in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The Sonics, though, managed to snap a five-game overall skid and a 15-game road losing streak with a 103-102 victory over Indiana on Wednesday.
Seattle outscored the Pacers 11-3 in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the game and Ray Allen scored 10 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter.
"I hate losing, I hate losing," Allen said. "It seems like so many emotions go through your head and winning makes life a lot better. We've been in positions to win in recent games, but just couldn't finish down the stretch."
Allen is averaging 32.4 points and 6.4 assists in his last five games, and has remained positive after finding out he wasn't named to the West All-Star team last week.
"Let me just say, I have a lot of people that are very supportive, especially of all of my accomplishments in my career," said Allen, a six-time All-Star who is averaging 26.9 points per game this season. "I'll just have another shot next year."
Allen looks to continue his recent scoring spree against the Kings, who held him to one of his worst shooting performances of the season when he made just 6-of-22 shots for 18 points in the November meeting.
These teams meet again at Arco Arena on Sunday.
2006-07 Stats at a Glance
Record: 21 - 26 (.447)
Standings: Fifth, Pacific
At Home: 15 - 11
At Road: 6 - 15
Streak: W 4
PPG: 99.9 Opp PPG: 100.4
FG%: .447 Opp FG%: .460
RPG: 40.0 Opp RPG: 43.0
Record: 18 - 31 (.367)
Standings: Fifth, Northwest
At Home: 13 - 12
At Road: 5 - 19
Streak: W 1
PPG: 99.9 Opp PPG: 102.9
FG%: .464 Opp FG%: .476
RPG: 39.3 Opp RPG: 41.5
I'm not exactly cheering for a loss but I won't be upset if we lose both games. Mainly I want Mike and Ron to shoot real well so they raise their trade value. If we lose it's just a better shot at a good draft pick.
BTW, if Lewis is back, Lewis/Artest should make a good matchup. Same with Martin and Ray Allen. Have a hunch that their athletic frontcourt will give ours trouble.
We don't need Oden or Durant. We just need a big man who has star potential and will block shots/board. It's like "okay, KG/Ewing(Durant and Oden) would be nice, but I will settle for Bosh, Brand/Boozer, or McDyess(Wright, Horford, Arthur).
I would be perfectly happy with a top 5 pick. Before our 4 game win streak we were the 6th worst team in the league(recordwise). If we continue to lose, I'm not going to be upset because there are plenty of PF/Cs who will be drafted in the lottery and they could help us.
man that sucks for brad. but this was a great win, 5 straight and 2 more until Jerry Reynolds has to get a mohawk. This team really goes as Kevin and Ron go, like tonight Mike Bibby had a terrible shooting night but it didn't even effect the Kings at all, they scored 114 points. Kevin was once again big. Kings shoot 50 % from the field, and 52% from the three. hey, we actually outscored a team in the paint!
Great Games By:
Ron Artest: 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting, we love to see that. he's taking it to the rim a lot more now, and hit 3 three pointers. well played game by ron artest.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim: Reef really stepped it up in the absence of Brad Miller. He was hitting his jumper which he hasn't been doing at all this season, and was 6 of 8 from the field.
Star of The Night, Francisco Garcia: He was the big spark off the bench for us, and is a big reason Mike's bad night didn't hurt us. 17 points on 5 of 7 shooting is production. 3 of 4 from three, and they were all good shots, wasn't really forcing it except for times that he rushed things. 5 steals and 5 rebounds to top it all off! he was the star of the night imo.
Kevin Martin: He had a good game but it's rare that he shoots under 50%, that's how good he's become. when he shoots, u expect it to go in. but the reason he is on this list is because of the defensive job he did on Ray Allen. Yeah he had 29 points but he shot 8 of 21 from the field, and this is a guy who's been on fire for the last 8 games.
Nice analysis Targus. I agree with pretty much everything you said. Bibby sucked tonight(which is odd, seemed like he was starting to get out of his slump) but because of Garcia we didn't really feel it. Team seems to go as far as Kevin and Ron take them.
Sonics just looked dead out there. They looked dejected and like they gave up, kind of like our team did during January. So I'm not sure if this was a quality win or not even though we blew them out. Looks like it was though. Wonder if Seattle comes into our house tomorrow looking for revenge.