The New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings both struggled down the stretch while losing games Tuesday night.
They will try to bounce back when they meet up in Sacramento on Wednesday night.
New Orleans, which has won just one of eight games this season, led the host Phoenix Suns by as many as 20 points but wound up losing 112-100 to begin a four-game road trip.
Sacramento was in front at Utah with five minutes remaining and trailed by just two points with 23.4 seconds left but ended up losing 119-113 to the Jazz.
“I love the fight of our team,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “It’s really fun coaching these guys, and we’re learning these hard lessons. I hope we figure it out soon, but the details of the game are what is costing us right now.
“Tonight, it was defensive rebounding (allowing 15 offensive rebounds), not boxing out. The fight of our group is great, and I love coaching these guys, but we’re going to keep taking tough losses until we can clean up some of the details, what people call the little things of the game.”
The Kings, who start a four-game homestand against the Pelicans, took their final lead of the game, 102-101, on Richaun Holmes’ tip-in with 5:02 remaining, but they couldn’t finish.
De’Aaron Fox, who had 23 points on Friday to lead the Kings in a 113-109 victory at New Orleans, managed just 13 points against the Jazz. He made 4 of 15 field-goal attempts and missed all four of his 3-point tries.
“De’Aaron’s a very, very talented player,” Walton said. “He knows how important he is to us, and when you’re struggling, the best way out of it is to work harder, grind more, fight through it, believe in what you’re doing and believe in your teammates, and I have all the faith in the world that De’Aaron will do that.”
Harrison Barnes scored 23 to lead seven Kings scorers in double figures. Sacramento’s bench outscored Utah’s bench 41-19.
The Pelicans lost their fourth consecutive game when they were outscored 36-18 in the fourth quarter at Phoenix.
“We made a lot of mistakes, especially in that second half to a team you can’t make mistakes to,” said New Orleans guard Josh Hart, who scored 16 points in his second consecutive start in place of injured Brandon Ingram, who is day-to-day with a hip contusion. “Being young is not an excuse. We weren’t dialed in the second half defensively to focus on getting stops and playing our game.
“When that happens, we blow a 20-point lead and lose.”
New Orleans’ Jonas Valanciunas had his sixth straight double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds, Devonte’ Graham added 12 points and Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 10.
The Pelicans scored 15 points off eight Phoenix turnovers in the first quarter on their way to the 20-point edge in the second quarter. The rest of the game belonged to the Suns.
“We were just clicking,” Valanciunas said of the first half. “We were covering for each other, helping each other, being in the right spot, the right timing. That was fun to play like that. We need more of that.”
–Field Level Media