The last month has been good to the Sacramento Kings, who are making a case to be included in the playoff picture in the powerful Western Conference. The same can't be said for the reeling Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies look to avoid their season-high seventh straight loss on Tuesday when they host the Kings.
Memphis (13-37) is 3-14 since Jan. 8 and winless in its last six games - a stretch that has dropped the Grizzlies further out of contention in the West. They haven't had a longer losing streak since they went on a seven-game skid Nov. 4-18, 2006 en route to the league's worst record last season.
The Kings (23-26), meanwhile, are 11-6 since Jan. 8 and have victories over four teams that are currently leading their divisions in that stretch. They've pulled into 11th place in the crowded West standings.
Sacramento lost 105-102 at Golden State on Saturday, but Kings coach Reggie Theus liked what he saw in the defeat.
"If we keep playing like that, play harder than the other team night in and night out, we are going to win some of those games," said Theus, who's in his first year as a head coach in the NBA. "I am very pleased with the effort, and I am very pleased with the ways guys got after it."
Theus' club has turned its season around partly because it's finally healthy. Sacramento's top three scorers from last season didn't start together until Jan. 22, but Kevin Martin, Ron Artest and Mike Bibby have jelled quickly.
"We were right there with them at a time where we're peaking as a team," Artest said after Saturday's loss. "The growth is showing a lot."
The Kings are averaging 106.5 points since Jan. 8, which isn't a good sign for the Grizzlies, who are allowing 108.1 in that same stretch.
One encouraging sign for the Grizzlies, however, is the development of second-year forward Rudy Gay, who's averaging 23.1 points and 8.4 rebounds in his last seven games. He had 26 points and six boards while going 10-for-17 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range in Saturday's 112-99 loss to New Orleans.
"He's a threat inside, he's a threat outside," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "He's a guy where you have to get the ball out of his hands. He opens things up for others. I think when he becomes a guy who understands that he can create shots for his teammates, then he's going to really be an All-Star. He's in his second year, and he's making progress."
Gay led Memphis with 31 points and seven rebounds in its first meeting with Sacramento on Jan. 10. The Kings, though, got 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists from center Brad Miller and won 116-113 for their fourth victory in the last five games in the series.
Miller is averaging 18.2 points and 15.2 rebounds while playing in five of Sacramento's last six games. He missed the team's loss to Seattle on Wednesday after cutting the index finger on his right hand.
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