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Let’s make like Oliver Cromwell and Behead us a King

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Published: December 20, 2008

Matchup:  Kings(7-20) @ Hornets(15-7)

Off Efficiency: Kings 100.1(25th), Hornets 107.2(6th)
Def Efficiency: Kings 109.8(28th), Hornets 102.3(10th)

Sacramento lands in New Orleans today to take on the Hornets after losing last night in Houston.  Just like earlier in the season, Sacramento is struggling, having gone 2-8 over their last ten.  However, one of those wins were over the Los Angeles Lakers, as Derek Fisher and company learned the same thing the Hornets did earlier in the season:  You take a team lightly, let them get hot shooting the ball, and let them fast break on you every third posession, you lose.

New Orleans is going the other direction, having finally gotten in a groove, going 8-2 over their last ten.  Their last game was a fascinating come-from-behind affair against San Antonio, and we’ll see if the Hornets can build on that at all by this time coming out and guillotining the Kings tonight.

Injuries

Kings: Kevin Martin continues to be out.  The hyper-efficient Kings scorer has only played 9 games this season, and after injuries last season, may be entering “injury-prone” status.  That sucks, I enjoy watching him play.
Hornets: In the latest Picayune article, Byron said that Peja says he feels fine, but that they may keep him out anyways to make sure he’s ready for the Lakers. I’ll go with him sitting out for the preview.
As usual, there’s no mention of Mo Pete and whether he’s feeling better.  I’m getting a little irritated about him being such an afterthought.

Positional Analysis

PG: Beno Udrih v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
I wouldn’t mind having Beno on my team – as a backup point guard.  Everything about him screams mediocrity.  Mediocre assist to turnover rating, mediocre shooting, mediocre assists and steals for a point.  He’s simply average.  It’s a toss up whether the increasingly intense Paul will rip his arm off and bludgeon him with it, or simply drop 25 and 15 on his head.

SG: Francisco Garcia v Devin Brown
Advantage: Kings
Francisco is hardly a household name, but I’ve always been a fan of his game.  He’s had to fight through some injuries this season, so he’s not knocked the rust off his jumpshot, but he’ll be fairly effective and is good on the fast break.  Devin is a good rebounding guard, and can score in transition, but his half-court game is severely limiting.  I’d rather see Mo Pete here any day of the year at this point.

SF: John Salmons v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Kings
My fondness for Rasual Butler grows.  He was always one of my favorite underdogs to root for, but this seasons he’s been simply invaluable – and not just for his timely big plays.  When Manu started to go off on the Hornets in the third, Byron switched Butler onto him, and suddenly his life became a lot harder.  Butler’s and Tyson are easily the two best defenders on our team.  Despite all that, Salmons is having the best year of his career as the primary kings offensive weapon.  He’s shooting 50% from the field, 41% from the three point line, and every time I’ve seen a Kings game, he pushes hard in transition for easy buckets.  Butler will have his hands full.

PF: Spencer Hawes v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Spencer is pretty much Brad Miller, with one difference: where Miller is a good passer, Spencer is a good shotblocker.  Both have similar rebound rates, similar scoring numbers, and similar preferred offense, both loving to shoot long twos and even step out on the three point line at times.  West will have to be willing to step out after Hawes, because last game against us he buried three long balls.  West won’t have too much trouble scoring on Hawes, however.  He’ll probably have a shot blocked at the basket, but he’ll still be effective. 

C:  Brad Miller v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
Tyson’s energy has been up the past couple games, and I expect him to be able to continue that.  Seems all is becoming normal for him at home, so that makes the Hornets so much more dangerous.  Brad will hit several wide open seventeen foot jumpshots and have a nice drive or two, but Tyson should be able to outplay him – mostly because Tyson’s defense helps everyone on the Hornets.

Bench
Advantage: Hornets
The Hornets are going up against a bench that may, if possible, be even more inconsistent than they are.  Bobby Jackson had a huge game in Houston, scoring 19, and against the Hornets, he drilled some huge threes on route to a good dozen points.  That, however, is the exception, not the rule with Bobby.  Overall, he’s hitting 38% from the field and 23% from three for the season – which are the same numbers that made us trade him in the first place.  Jason Thompson is a nice rookie big man off the bench, but after that things get thin and pretty inconsistent.  The Hornets roll out Posey and Antonio Daniels, both of whom are steadying influences.  And hey, Sean Marks and Hilton Armstrong are VERY consistent.  Consistently bad, maybe, but they are consistent!

Enjoy the game.