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Game On: Kings at Hornets
New Orleans continues their homestand with a 5 PM Sunday evening tip-off against the Sacramento Kings.
After beating the Kings 114-105 on Martin Luther King Day in the New Orleans Arena, the Hornets will face the Kings for the second time this season. While the end result was nice, the victory left a sour taste in many people’s mouths due to the team’s inability to deliver the knockout punch after taking a 25 point lead into halftime. The Kings won the 3rd quarter by 14 points and made it somewhat of a game again, though the Hornets did enough to hang on. Here’s what the Hornets need to do to win again tonight (as long as they make sure that they don’t take their foot off of the gas):
Three Keys to the Game
- Crash the offensive glass. Though the Hornets only rank 13th in the NBA in offensive rebound rate, the Kings are the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding team with a defensive rebound rate of 69.8%. A DRR of under 70% is absolutely terrible, plain and simple, and the Hornets need to take advantage. To make matters worse for Sacramento, while trading Thomas Robinson for Patrick Patterson gives their team an immediate upgrade overall, it makes them an even poorer rebounding team. After a couple rough match-ups, Robin Lopez could be poised to have a nice game tonight, as his individual offensive rebound rate of 11.3% is best on the team; in fact, Anthony Davis is the only other Hornets player above 9% in that stat category. Work hard on the offensive boards, and easy second chance points will follow.
- Take high-efficiency shots. Though their bad defensive rebounding certainly plays a role in this number, Sacramento has the league’s worst defensive rating, allowing 108.8 points per 100 possessions. The Kings also allow the 7th worst free throw rate (opponents shoot .294 free throws per field goal attempt) and are also 10th worst in the league at 3-point defense (opponents shoot 36.3% from long distance). This means that the vast majority of the Hornets’ shot attempts tonight should be taken either in the paint or beyond the arc. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lopez and Smith’s playing time from Wednesday night reversed (Smith played 24 minutes whereas Lopez played just 16).
- Disrupt passing lanes. The Kings have the league’s second lowest assist rate (15.5%) and the league’s worst assist/turnover ratio (1.33). In a nutshell, this means that the Kings score a higher percentage of their points without the help of good passing than any team in the NBA. If the Hornets can’t prevent Kings players from catching passes which put them in good position to score, this game could be closer than many people expect.
Despite the Hornets’ 0-3 record since the All-Star break, I would be disappointed if they don’t win this game by double digits. New Orleans showed in the first half of their game against Sacramento a month ago that they are fully capable of blowing out this Kings team, and at full strength, there really isn’t any excuse for them not to do so. Enjoy the game, and go Hornets!