SACRAMENTO (AP) – While his team has held five consecutive opponents to fewer than 100 points, New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson would like to see better results on the offensive end.
There’s a good chance that could happen against the slumping Sacramento Kings.
New Jersey continues its four-game western swing Friday night when it faces the Kings, who are trying to snap a six-game losing streak and avoid their longest skid at Arco Arena in two seasons.
The Nets (4-7) are among the top 10 in the league in scoring defense at 95.9 points per game and field-goal percentage defense at 44.3. Johnson’s team, though, is averaging a league-worst 92.8 points on 44.3 percent shooting.
Looking to build on a 110-86 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, New Jersey lost 98-88 to Utah on Wednesday.
“We hold them to (40.2) percent shooting from the field and give up 98 points,” Johnson said. “But we couldn’t drop it in the ocean as a team tonight. Shooting (37.6) percent from the field is not good.”
That number could improve against a Kings team that has allowed three consecutive opponents to shoot better than 51.9 percent.
Sacramento (3-7) is yielding 106.0 points per game and has the league’s worst field-goal percentage defense at 49.2. Coach Paul Westphal’s club has been especially bad in the second quarter, with opponents shooting 57.1 percent.
The Kings were outscored 40-22 in the second period of a 113-106 home loss to New York on Wednesday and trailed at halftime for the 10th consecutive game.
“We have to go back to the drawing board and play better defense,” forward Carl Landry said after scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds. “Defense is what wins games in the NBA. We weren’t playing like a team in the second quarter and lost our focus on defense. The first quarter was fine but the second quarter got away from us.”
The fourth quarter got away from Sacramento in a 106-100 loss in New Jersey on Oct. 29. Leading by eight with 3:40 left, the Kings were outscored 17-3 the rest of the way.
Nets guard Devin Harris scored six of his 21 points during that late-game run, and the Nets shot 52.5 percent overall to improve to 2-0 for the first time in eight years.
Matched up with Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 12 points before fouling out with 3:26 left, Nets center Brook Lopez had a season-high 29 with six boards.
Lopez has scored 26.3 points per game with 10.0 rebounds in his last three versus Sacramento, and had 24 and 11 in a 109-96 loss at Arco Arena on Nov. 27.
Sacramento has won 12 of 14 at home in this series, but it has equaled last season’s longest skid at Arco at five. The Kings’ last 0-6 stretch at home was an eight-game slide from Nov. 11-Dec. 6, 2008.
Making his season debut after serving a one-game suspension for a reckless driving arrest over the summer, Tyreke Evans had 18 points and seven assists against New Jersey last month.
Evans, the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year, scored a team-high 21 with eight boards in the Nets’ last visit to Sacramento.
New Jersey, which closes its trip Saturday against Denver, is seeking its third road win. The Nets didn’t reach that total last season until Feb. 27.
© 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.