Game Preview: Kings @ Hornets

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Published: November 29, 2009

Matchup:  Hornets(7-9) @ Kings(7-8) 

Off Efficiency: Kings 105.7(19th), Hornets 103.8(15th)
Def Efficiency: Kings 106.8(23rd), Hornets 107.3(26th)

One month ago, the Hornets were 0-1, so were the Kings, and they were facing each other for the first time.  At that time, I was pretty optimistic about the Hornet’s chances, but the game ended uncomfortably close, and only a pair of great defensive plays by Okafor and a full-on Chris Paul scoring explosion in the fourth earned the Hornets a 5 point win.

A lot of things have changed since then.  The perception of the Hornets as a good team has been sorely tested.  The Kings, expected to push for the bottom of the league, have instead played nearly .500 ball.  Both teams have suffered early injuries to their top players, and made up for it by riding young bucks – Collison and Thornton for the Hornets, and Tyreke Evans, Donte Greene, Jason Thompson and Omri Casspi for the Kings.

Sacramento is the epitomy of a highly athletic team, getting good numbers on the glass and relying on free throws to provide efficient scoring.  They also tend to turn the ball over a lot more and rank near the bottom of the league in assist rate as they rely on their own athletic gifts to provide their scoring.

The Hornets, of late, have been matching up fairly well with athletic teams, but those games tend to be ugly with a capital U.  Lets see if their newfound grit will carry them to yet another W.

Injuries:

Kings: Kevin Martin is struggling with his annual month+ injury.
Hornets: Chris Paul is out.  Ike Diogu is out.  Hilton is probably out.

Positional Analysis

PG: Tyreke Evans v Darren Collison
Advantage: Kings
Evans is a massive specimen at guard.  He isn’t much as a passer, or much as a shooter, but he is very good at getting into the paint and pulling up for a shot or getting fouled.  Collison and his slight frame may have a little trouble handling him at times, but Collison has also shown an ability to stay in front of nearly everyone he’s been matched up against, it’ll be interesting to see who struggles more.  If Collison can frustrate Evan’s drives and make him a jumpshooter, the Hornets win here.

SG: Andres Nocioni v Devin Brown
Advantage: Even
Nocioni has struggled with his shooting this year, and mostly gets by on energy and aggressiveness.  He’s been surprisingly inefficient, however, making Devin Brown a pretty similar player in the end.

SF: Donte Greene v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Even
Donte Greene doesn’t play big minutes because of his allergies to rebounding and passing, but he’s by far the most efficient scorer on the Kings, putting down a stellar 1.49 points per shot.  Peja can’t match that efficiency, even when he’s on fire.  However, Peja should actually outrebound, out-pass, and generally out-produce.

PF: Jason Thompson v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Jason Thompson is a good player, willing to do all the dirty work and dig out rebounds.  He also cannot control his fouling, and David West typically puts him in early foul trouble.  West has slowly been working himself back into going towards the basket, rather than fading away from the basket, and I expect he might dominate Thompson.

C: Spencer Hawes v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hornets
Hawes is a non-rebounding jumpshooter.  Every once in a while he gets hot and looks good.  Most of the time, he takes too many long jumpers, doesn’t earn free throws, and is a soft rebounder.  Okafor may not be able to stretch the floor, but I’d rather have him posting than Hawes spotting up for a jumper.

Bench
Advantage: Even
Omri Casspi, Beno Udrih, Sergio Rodriguez, Sean May, John Brockman v Marcus Thornton, James Posey, Darius Songaila, Bobby Brown, Sean Marks.

Udrih and Casspi typically play starters minutes, and provide a decent amount of scoring punch.  Brockman provides some slow-footed rebounding, and Rodriguez is a solid fourth guard.  I’d almost rather have the scoring burst of Thornton, along with the suddenly revitalized Posey and energetic Songaila, but the Hornets bench does miss that bit of rebounding effort, making this a draw in my mind.

Enjoy the Game!

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