The Atlanta Hawks have faced playoff contenders throughout a five-game winning streak. That won't be the case in their next contest as they take on a Sacramento Kings team that's trying to avoid an NBA record for futility.With a chance to match their longest run of the season, the Hawks look to hand the league-worst Kings their latest loss to an Eastern Conference team Tuesday night.
Atlanta (39-28) has beaten Detroit, New Orleans, Utah, Indiana and Portland during its win streak. The only team in that group not currently in playoff position is the Pacers, who are 2 1/2 games behind Milwaukee and Chicago for eighth place in the East.
A win versus Sacramento (14-52) would give the Hawks six straight victories for the third time this season, and the Kings don't seem to be in any position to end Atlanta's run.
A 106-104 defeat to Washington on Sunday night gave Sacramento the NBA's worst record and dropped it to 0-26 versus the East. No team has ever gone winless against the other conference.
Atlanta, 13-11 versus the West, has won five straight at Philips Arena and is 25-7 there on the season. The Hawks continued their outstanding play at home with a 98-80 win over Portland on Sunday.
With Marvin Williams (back) set to miss his fifth straight game, Joe Johnson has picked up even more of the scoring burden. Johnson had 35 points versus the Blazers, shooting 15-for-27 in his fourth straight 30-point game.
"It all feels great to come out and put on a good performance, a string of good performances in games we're winning," he said. "That makes it even better, man. I'm just trying to be aggressive and make plays."
Atlanta coach Mike Woodson had no update on Williams after Sunday's contest. The fourth-year forward is averaging 14.0 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Williams' absence makes Woodson's emphasis on defense that much more important. The Hawks have allowed an average of 84.4 points over their last five games and are 33-9 when holding opponents under 100 points.
"If they hadn't realized it's the defense and rebounding that's been doing that, then we're fooling ourselves," Woodson said. "Because that's the only way I think you win in this league is to defend and rebound and share it offensively, and these last five games we've done that."
Though the Kings have lost four of five, they've topped 100 points in four of those contests - three against East teams. Their last four chances to beat a team from that conference occur over a five-day stretch, as they play Charlotte on Wednesday and New York on Friday before hosting Philadelphia on Sunday.
"We definitely don't want to be labeled as the worst team," Sacramento center Spencer Hawes said. "There is still a lot to play for. We still have a lot to prove."
The Kings came within a point of at least having a chance to force overtime against the Wizards. Officials ruled Kings guard Francisco Garcia's right shoe barely grazed the 3-point arc on a shot he made with 3.8 seconds left, leaving the Wizards ahead by one.
A bright spot for Sacramento was the return of point guard Beno Udrih, who had missed six games with a sprained right foot. He had 10 points and seven assists in his first game off the bench this season.
Udrih is averaging 20.3 points in three starts against Atlanta. He had 18 points in the Kings' 105-100 loss to the Hawks on Feb. 18, the teams' first meeting this season.