Time is running out on the Washington Wizards' playoff hopes, but facing a couple teams out of the race could help them begin closing the gap.
John Wall attempts to bounce back from one of his worst performances of the season as the Wizards try to capitalize on a meeting with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
Washington (36-38) is trying to reach the postseason for a third straight time, but it trails eighth-place Indiana by three games with eight remaining. Four of those games pit the Wizards against teams out of playoff contention, including Friday's visit to Phoenix following this matchup with the Kings (29-45).
They struggled with the league's best team Tuesday, shooting 41.9 percent from the floor and 5 for 23 from 3-point range in a 102-94 loss at Golden State. Washington squandered a nine-point lead in the final 2:24 of the first half en route to a third loss in four tries following a season-best five-game win streak.
"Against a team like this that's fighting for history, 12-0 at the end of a half when you're up nine hurts," coach Randy Wittman said.
Wall was limited to eight points on 4-of-14 shooting with 11 assists Tuesday, ending ended his run of nine straight double-doubles - the longest such run by a guard this season.
Wall had 12 points and a career-high 19 assists in a 113-99 win over Sacramento on Dec. 21, while Marcin Gortat contributed a season-best 27 points and 16 rebounds.
With eight games left in another disappointing season, the Kings are 7 1/2 behind Houston for eighth place. That was far enough from contention to lead coach George Karl to rest DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo on Monday, when Sacramento lost 105-93 at Portland.
While the trio should be back in the lineup, Karl is planning more days off for his stars.
"I think it will happen some more," Karl said. "I don't think there's an exact schedule yet but I think you'll see us do it a little bit more, especially in back-to-back situations."
A layoff could be in Karl's future, too. Reports have surfaced that he's been asked to resign multiple times this season as the Kings attempt to save the $10 million remaining on his contract.
For now, Sacramento is aiming for its first 30-win season since finishing with 38 in 2007-08.
Cousins is fourth in the NBA with 27.0 points per game and fifth with 11.6 rebounds.
It's unknown if the Kings will have Marco Belinelli available after he sat out two games with a sore right foot. The guard had 15 points against the Wizards in December.
Sacramento has won five straight at home against Washington since a 110-107 loss on Jan. 21, 2009.