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Kings face Cavs again with eye on playoff drive

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The Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings will meet for the second time this week when they tip off Saturday in California’s capital city.

The Kings began their current three-game winning streak with a 119-105 win in Cleveland on Monday.

With a 110-108 defeat of the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, followed by a 141-119 rout of the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, Sacramento has won five of its past six and has climbed to within 3 1/2 of the San Antonio Spurs for eighth place in the Western Conference.

The Kings will play back-to-back games at San Antonio next week.

Sacramento aims to carry a four-game winning streak into that series, and to continue riding the hot scoring hand of De’Aaron Fox. The 23-year-old guard went for a career-high 44 points in the Thursday blowout of Golden State, and he has scored at least 30 points in each of the Kings’ past three games.

“For me, it’s continuing to stay in attack mode, early and often,” Fox said of his offensive mindset. “Try not to force anything but continue to attack the basket.”

He finished with 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting from the floor on Monday against the Cavaliers and posted 37 points Wednesday against Atlanta.

In their past five wins, the Kings received key contributions from Richaun Holmes, who posted 25 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks on Thursday.

Tyrese Haliburton moved into the starting lineup six games ago, and he has scored at least 20 points in two of the past three games. He put up a career-high 28 points at Cleveland.

Sacramento marks the third opponent on a four-game road swing for the Cavaliers, and second leg of a back-to-back set. Cleveland opened the trip Wednesday with a 103-94 win in Chicago, then lost Friday in Los Angeles to a Lakers squad without Anthony Davis or LeBron James, 100-86.

The Cavaliers were without leading scorer Collin Sexton for both games due to a hamstring injury. Sexton, listed as day-to-day, is averaging 24 points per game.

Larry Nance Jr. and Jarrett Allen both recorded double-doubles on Friday. Nance had 17 points and 10 rebounds while Allen finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Both dished five assists.

Cleveland’s loss in Los Angeles, like its defeat against Sacramento on Monday, hinged largely on a dismal third quarter. The Cavaliers were outscored in the period 28-10 on Friday, turning a seven-point halftime lead into an 11-point deficit.

Against the Kings, a 27-17 third quarter deficit expanded a four-point gap to 14.

“We missed shots. I thought we did a really good job of moving the ball,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “You go back and look at how we created shots for one another, we just didn’t make them.”

Cleveland shot just 38.8 percent from the floor Friday, including 19.2 percent (5 of 26) from beyond the 3-point arc. The Cavaliers rank No. 23 in the NBA in field-goal percentage (.451), No. 29 in 3-point shooting percentage (.339) and last in scoring offense (103.6 points per game).

–Field Level Media

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