Published: January 1, 2012
The Hornets take their show into Sacramento to face the Kings, a team that relies heavily on isolation basketball and individual brilliance to take games. Unfortunately for the Kings, their individual talents don’t yet amount to any sort of efficiency, and as a result, they’ve been crushed in three straight games after pulling out a close win over the short-handed Lakers in their home opener.
Now, I’ve said before that teams rely too much on isolation or are selfish, but this year the Kings are showing who the real masters are when it comes to selfish basketball. No player on their team is averaging more than 2.8 assists. The best assist-to-turnover guy on their team is big man Chuck Hayes, and not one guard reaches the purely average 2 assists per turnover ratio you’d want in a competent ball-handler. The Kings end up taking contested shots, and since they have an awful defense (currently the 2nd worst in the league), they pay for it. In truth, the only efficient scorer they have on their team right now is Marcus Thornton, who is brilliantly aggressive but is not going to help in establishing the balanced attack the Kings so desperately need.
On the flip side, the Hornets roll into this game sporting the sixth best defense of the young season. With a defense built around a tall team with multiple big men capable of contesting shots in the paint, an elite wing defender in Ariza who has shown he’s fully locked in, and swarming, athletic help defense by everyone not named Kaman, the Hornets seem custom-built to stop isolation-focused teams. So the Hornets can take this game – if one simple thing happens:
The Hornets have to find a way to make shots.
So far the Hornets have managed to field the 8th worst offense in the league, and they will once again be missing big gun Eric Gordon. Perhaps Gustavo Ayon will debut and provide that scoring burst – but somehow I think that may be too much to ask of him. Instead, the Hornets will have to ride Landry, their most efficient and competent scorer, get Okafor room to power layup all over the Kings, and hope that one of the Hornets three “scoring” guards find more net than rim. If that happens, expect a happy New Year.
- Vegas Zone -The line opened with the Kings a 3.5 point underdog, but it’s down to 2.5 now as most people don’t seem to yet trust this Hornets team.
- Our second favorite team is in action too. Like Michael, I am talking about the WIPTT’s (Whoever Is Playing The Timberwolves). Tonight the WIPTT’s feature Dirk Nowitzki and various other old players. Let’s all hope the defending champs have enough in them to keep the Wolves winless. (Sorry Jason, I expect you to root for the Mavs tonight.)
- Prediction: Hornets win 88-82. Marcus Thornton goes for 28.
Enjoy the Game!