The two worst teams in the Western Conference square off in the Big Easy on Wednesday when the New Orleans Hornets aim to avoid being swept in the season series by Sacramento for the first time since 2003-04.
Both teams have already been eliminated from postseason play and the Kings are 3 1/2 games above the cellar dwelling Hornets in the West. That margin is largely fueled by the fact that Sacramento has already topped New Orleans three times in 2011-12.
Recently things haven't been going so smoothly for the Kings, who lost their fifth straight contest in Dallas on Tuesday, a 110-100 setback at the hands of the reigning world champions.
DeMarcus Cousins poured in a game-high 25 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and had a career-high six steals for Sacramento, which has lost its last 16 games in Big D. Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas contributed 16 points apiece while Jimmer Fredette added 13 in defeat.
"I thought the tone was set for us to play; we had to make sure we kept the game under control. I thought our guys did a good job," Kings head coach Keith Smart said. "This group played well, they did a good job, got the game close, and just a few little details of turning the ball over and maybe some quick shots. But that's what you get sometimes with a team that's learning how to win and close out quarters."
Sacramento, which is a conference worst 5-24 on the road and will miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, will finish a three-game trek in Oklahoma City on Friday.
The Hornets, meanwhile, are coming off a 93-91 home loss to the Kobe Bryant- less Lakers on Monday.
Bryant missed his second straight game with a shin injury, but Metta World Peace drained the go-ahead three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:26 to play as Los Angeles held on for the win.
Carl Landry paced the Hornets with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Marco Belinelli added 20 points and Greivis Vasquez notched 18 with 11 assists in defeat. New Orleans has lost five of its last seven games overall.
"We always play good with them. We keep it close," Hornets forward Jason Smith said. "We have a lead, and we let the lead go. It's a disappointing loss. We had a lot of guys play well, but we still didn't come out with a win."
Prior to Monday's game, the Hornets announced that guard Jarrett Jack will miss the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his right foot. Jack finished his season with career highs of 15.6 points, 6.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds.