Two teams looking to put a loss to the Utah Jazz in the rear-view mirror will tangle Tuesday night when the Boston Celtics visit the Sacramento Kings.
The Celtics will be ending a six-game road trip while the Kings will be opening a four-game homestand when the clubs meet for the second and final time this regular season.
Boston recorded a 122-104 home win over Sacramento on November 25, getting 30 points from Jayson Tatum and 25 from Jaylen Brown.
Brown also had 25 points but Tatum managed just 15 when the Celtics took a 118-117 loss to the Utah Jazz in its most recent action on Saturday. Grant Williams added 23 points in the setback, which was Boston’s second in five games on the trip.
The Celtics has gone the past eight games without starting centre Robert Williams III, who is sidelined due to a strained left hamstring. He worked out on Monday’s off day and was given the green light to face the Kings.
If he is able to play, Williams could give a boost to the Celtics just as it might be running low on gas on a tough cross-country trip. It earned a win over the Atlanta Hawks, fell by two points to the Houston Rockets, then defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Portland Trail Blazers before visiting Salt Lake City.
In its fifth game in eight days on Saturday, Boston watched as the Jazz used 17 offensive rebounds and a poor offensive night from Tatum to steal a one-point victory.
Tatum, an All-Star starter this season, failed to deliver on key opportunities in both losses on the trip. He admitted after Saturday’s failure he’d have no problem if fellow All-Star Brown -- or anyone else for that matter -- took a shot at the late-game heroics.
“I ain’t got no ego or nothing like that. I’m just trying to win,” he said. “Joe (Mazzulla, the head coach,) can draw up a play for me, but there are other options.”
The Kings got no such game-winning shot in its 128-120 loss at Utah on Monday. De’Aaron Fox scored 37 points, Keegan Murray had 22 and Domantas Sabonis put up 11 to go with 12 rebounds and nine assists.
Sacramento (43-28) fell one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies (44-27) in its duel for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Celtics (49-23) hold the No. 2 spot in the East, a half-game up on the Philadelphia 76ers (48-23).
Sacramento’s loss at Utah prevented a 4-0 trip after the Kings earned wins at Chicago, Brooklyn and Washington.
A 40-19 first quarter doomed the Kings, and the resulting high-energy rally to make it a competitive finish could have ramifications on the second night of a back-to-back.
“Obviously we fought back,” Fox said of the comeback that saw the Kings erase a 25-point deficit and take the lead on five occasions in the fourth quarter. “But you don’t want to be in that type of position.”
The Kings also will host the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz and the Timberwolves on a homestand that could see them clinch their first playoff berth since 2006.
The Celtics already has sealed a spot in the Eastern Conference postseason.
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