Keys to the Game: Bulls at Kings (02.05.18)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Fatigue seems to be a trending topic in the NBA as the league inches toward the All-Star break in two weeks. The Sacramento Kings and Chicago Bulls both are suffering from that ailment.

Chiefly, they both are getting awfully tired of losing.

The teams will try to change their respective trends when they face each other on Monday night at the Golden 1 Center.

The Bulls (18-34) are languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Kings (16-36) are in the basement of the Western Conference.

Sacramento landed there with a thud on Saturday in a 106-99 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The Kings allowed 16 consecutive fourth-quarter points to the Mavericks and lost for the fifth straight time at home. They haven't won on their home floor since a 106-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 6.

"Mental fatigue may play a part in it," Kings forward Garrett Temple told reporters after the game. "But at the end of the day, you still can't use that as an excuse. Especially as veterans, we go through this time of the year however many years we've been in the league. So we should know how to take that and put it to the side when we get in between those lines."

The Kings' home slide has been spurred by poor defense and mostly poor shooting. But they bucked at least one of those trends on Saturday by making 52.4 percent of their shots from the field, the first time in eight games they made at least half of their shots. Veteran big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Zach Randolph combined for 28 points on 13-of-22 shooting.

Randolph had 25 points in Sacramento's 107-106 win on Dec. 1 in Chicago. Cauley-Stein would like to put together efforts similar to those more consistently.

"I definitely want to be in that role (of being a team leader on offense)," Cauley-Stein, now in this third season, told the Sacramento Bee. "I'm trying to work for that role, I work every day for that role. I manifest that role, and eventually, that's gonna be my role."

In their four previous home losses during the streak, the Kings have surrendered 52.9 percent shooting while allowing 116.8 points per game.

The news out of Chicago isn't much better.

The Bulls have lost six consecutive games, their longest skid since a 3-20 skid to start the season. They lost four of the six by at least 10 points, one of them 113-103 on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

"We're playing makeshift lineups and have guys playing who haven't much a chance this year," Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said. "You have to stay positive but learn from the mistakes."

The Bulls have not yet played with forward Omer Asik and guard Jameer Nelson, both of whom were acquired from New Orleans on Thursday for leading scorer Nikola Mirotic. They remain questionable for Monday's game pending the outcome of physicals they took after the trade.

Chicago is expected to have forward Lauri Markkanen back in the lineup. The team's top scorer now that Mirotic is gone, Markkanen has missed two straight games after leaving the team for the birth of his child.

"He's ready to get back to the team," Hoiberg told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He's been off for almost a week now. Just to get him back with the group and to get a couple of days with the team, obviously, he's ready for it."

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