Most teams would be reeling after losing four games in a row to fall below .500 for the first time in five weeks, but somehow, it still feels like the Kings are on the rise as they enter another pivotal portion of their schedule.,The Kings fought the two-time defending-champion Golden State Warriors to the end for the third time this season before falling 127-123 in a wildly entertaining game Saturday night at Golden 1 Center.,Sacramento’s last three losses came against three of the top seven teams in the Western Conference.,That stretch included eight games against teams currently in the top eight, including two against the Warriors, two against the Los Angeles Lakers and one against the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers.,The Kings will play their next eight games against six teams with a combined record of 137-168, five of them against an opponent on the second night of a back-to-back.

Nor is it likely to end well for a lot of Lakers, some of whom could be New Orleans-bound in a trade for Anthony Davis … or cut for salary cap space, like the eight of them who are on one-year deals, to bring in more free agents like Klay Thompson … or unemployed like Coach Luke Walton if Magic Johnson holds him responsible for any shortfall.,I don’t see a second-round loss going over well with Johnson, not after he read Walton the riot act seven games into the season, then, in as close as he felt like coming to reassuring everyone publicly, said Luke would, “finish this season unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”,It’s still emerging with last week’s report by ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski that Magic has wanted a new coach since he took over, but has yet to convince Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Walton.,Despite his cachet, James hasn’t been a behind-the-scenes schemer … aside from all his player recruiting … although Riley, whom LeBron left high and dry, late revealed that LeBron hinted that he would like him to fire Coach Erik Spoelstra during LeBron’s first season in Miami without coming out and actually asking him to do it.,A recent report from ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has wanted a new coach since he took over in February of 2017, but has yet to convince team owner Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Luke Walton, left.

As Saints coach Sean Payton rode an imaginary dirt bike around an overjoyed locker room, team executives surely toasted the gridiron accomplishments nearby.,These 36 games fully reveal glaring problems for the current state of this team and perhaps the future of the franchise.,When an injury to Payton — who was traded for a second-round pick last year and signed for just $3 million this summer — leaves a gaping, unfillable hole in the team’s rotation, it’s a sign of deeper problems.,And, every day the team fails to gain its footing, the louder the conversation gets surrounding Davis’ future.,While the Pelicans can offer Davis more money than any other suitor, the All-NBA stalwart publicly stated he’s more concerned with legacy than money, an obvious signal to the Pelicans he’s not returning unless he believes it can net him the kind of team success he needs to reach NBA legend status.

LeBron James prides himself in his durability, being available night after night, game after grueling game.,The Los Angeles Lakers lost LeBron in the third quarter to a strained left groin then went out and beat the two-time defending champions without him Tuesday night, getting King James' 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists before the injury in a surprising 127-101 rout of the Golden State Warriors.,Stephen Curry made consecutive 3s shortly after James exited, and the Warriors got within 78-76 at the 2:48 mark of the third — but Kyle Kuzma and the persistent Lakers stayed at it every possession.,It was James' second straight Christmas game at Oracle Arena after playing here with the Cavaliers last year and losing 99-92.,Walton — a former Warriors top assistant and dear friend of Steve Kerr — got some time with his Hall of Fame dad, Bill, before the game and a few moments to catch up with Curry and share holiday greetings in the hallway after the two-time MVP's warmup routine.