|7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET3:00 GMT11:00 8:00 PM MST10:00 PM EST7:00 UAE (+1)04:0022:00 ET9:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 27, 2017
Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California Attendance: 17,583
Cavaliers look to bounce back against Kings
Cleveland Cavaliers at Sacramento Kings
- While the Cavaliers are coming off a 99-92 loss at Golden State on Christmas, Cleveland hasn't dropped back-to-back games since losing four in a row between October 25 and November 1. The Cavaliers connected on just 31.8 percent of their field goals Monday, the team's lowest mark since Christmas 2015 (.316 against Golden State).
- The Kings surrendered their second-most points of 2017-18 on their way to a 122-95 thrashing by the Clippers in Los Angeles on Tuesday. At 0-11 in such cases, Sacramento is one of four teams this season that remain winless when allowing at least 110 points.
- The Cavaliers defeated Sacramento, 101-95, at Cleveland earlier this month, outscoring the Kings, 15-6, down the stretch. The Cavaliers have now taken five the past six meetings in the series.
- LeBron James has made at least five field goals in each of his last 156 games, a total that is nearly four times higher than any other player's active streak. DeMarcus Cousins is a distant second, with five or more made field goals in each of his last 42 games.
- Kevin Love has produced double-doubles in 11 of his last 12 games versus Sacramento. And for his career, Love has averaged 18.6 points and 11.2 rebounds against the Kings, making him one of only two active players to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds per game versus Sacramento (minimum 10 games, also Dwight Howard).
- Malachi Richardson, a second-year shooting guard from Syracuse, saw the most extensive playing time of his career on Tuesday (30:40) and matched a season high with 10 points. For his career, over half of Richardson's points (72 of 139) have come in the fourth quarter of games.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have suffered only the occasional dip during the past two months. If the Sacramento Kings don't find some of the energy that marked a pretty good road trip, Cleveland's latest slip won't be long either.
The Cavaliers will be fresh off a 99-92 Christmas Day loss when they face the Kings on Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center. Bad shooting, questionable whistles and a less-than-stellar effort from their reserves sent the Cavs to only their fourth loss in 24 games since Nov. 5.
They haven't lost back-to-back since a four-game slide during the season's first month sent false signals that Cleveland's three-year stranglehold on the Eastern Conference might be in jeopardy.
Not anymore. In fact, the league's reigning championship coach believes James may be better and his team more dangerous than ever.
"What he has done with his game is just incredible," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters of James, who is averaging 28.1 points, 9.1 assists and 8.1 rebounds while playing 28 minutes per game in his 15th season. "He's always been a dominant physical force from Year 1, but the skill at this point is better than it's ever been. You always have to contend with him in many ways. It feels like you have to contend with him in more ways now."
James scored 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting against the Warriors and has carried the load of Cleveland's offense alongside Kevin Love, who tallied 31 points and 18 rebounds against the Warriors and is averaging 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds in 30 minutes per game this season.
However, the Cavaliers found their footing when their reserves began to show effectiveness.
Against Golden State, Cleveland's reserves struggled to contribute only 21 points on 6-of-26 shooting. Normally, Cleveland's reserves average about 40 points per game on 45 percent shooting.
"Their second unit is much better than it's been," Kerr said after the game. "When LeBron goes off the floor now, it feels like they're much more capable of sustaining the effort."
Effort continues to be the key word for Sacramento. The Kings (11-22) have dropped two straight by a combined 46 points, the latest a 122-95 thrashing in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Monday night.
Sacramento allowed a season-worst 71 points in the first half, and opponents have blazed away for 52.3 percent shooting over the past two games, with 60 assists on 88 baskets.
The Clippers' reserves also scored 72 points.
"The level of focus, and being ready to go and being experienced in preparation and taking it out (onto the court), a lot of these guys are learning these things on the fly," Kings coach Dave Joerger told reporters. "We've been making a lot of strides but took a step back."
Both losses have come since Joerger inserted guard Buddy Hield and center Willie Cauley-Stein back into the starting lineup.
Hield scored only 10 points against the Clippers on 4-of-9 shooting, and Cauley-Stein managed 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds.
Updated December 27, 2017