Injuries have already decimated the Los Angeles Clippers. The Sacramento Kings, meanwhile, are about to find out if they can overcome the loss of Kevin Martin.
The injury-riddled Clippers look to avoid matching their longest losing streak in nearly two years Friday night when they visit a Kings team that will be without its top scorer for at least four weeks.
Hampered by major injuries to Elton Brand (Achilles') and Shaun Livingston (knee), Los Angeles (6-11) has lost seven straight games for the first time since an eight-game skid from Feb. 4-23, 2005.
Brand and Livingston will both be sidelined for more than half the season, and the Clippers have also been without point guard Sam Cassell (calf) for the past four games.
"We're sticking together. We're just trying to figure it out," Los Angeles forward Tim Thomas said after a 95-88 loss to Seattle on Wednesday night. "There's a million things we can blame, but we're not going in that direction."
The Clippers occupy last place in the Pacific Division, one game behind the Kings (7-10).
Sacramento, though, is enjoying its best stretch of the season, with three wins in its last four games - all against teams that made the playoffs last season. However, the recent success has been tempered by Martin's injury.
Martin, who is averaging a team-leading 24.5 points per game, is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after straining his right groin in the final minute of the third quarter during a 117-107 win over Utah on Tuesday night.
The Kings are already without point guard Mike Bibby (left thumb) and forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim (right knee), but they had seemed to be finding a groove after forward Ron Artest missed the first seven games because of a league suspension.
"Without Kev we definitely won't be as good," Artest said. "And we don't have Mike or Shareef. We have to hang in there and play every possession like it's our last possession."
Artest is averaging 22.3 points in nine games, and will now be counted on even more along with swingman John Salmons.
Salmons scored 13 straight points immediately after Martin went down Tuesday to fuel Sacramento's 43-point fourth quarter. He finished with 21 points, and is averaging a career-best 14.9 on the season.
He will likely match up against Los Angeles' Corey Maggette, who has helped offset the loss of Brand by averaging 20.5 points per game. Maggette had 23 points against the SuperSonics.
Chris Kaman also continues to have an outstanding season for the Clippers. The 7-footer - who was picked sixth overall in the 2003 draft - is averaging 18.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3 blocks per game.
Kaman had 19 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five blocks versus Seattle. But he has not been involved as much offensively in his last four games against the Kings, averaging just 9.8 points.
Los Angeles and Sacramento each won a game at home and on the road in last season's series between the teams. The Clippers had lost 14 straight against the Kings before a 102-93 win last Dec. 29.
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