The Kings beat the Hornets

That might have been the most disappointing performance of the season by the Hornets. Looking to bounce back from their loss to the Lakers on Friday, they rolled in to Sacramento to face a lottery-bound Kings team missing two starters. You'd think we'd win such a game even if Chris Paul was blind and limbless. But no. We sucked and we lost. The Lakers jump ahead of us to the top of the Western Conference and I'm here wondering what kind of chance we have in the Playoffs if that's the best effort we can muster in a must-win ballgame.

David West, and no defense

Notes about the suckage…

  • Final score was 91-94 ( recap | box score | standings ). The Hornets seemed to have it on cruise control all game, as if they were going through the motions and planned to turn it on in the fourth quarter to get the win. We trailed by three at halftime, managed to build up an eight-point lead in the third quarter, then watched Ron Artest drop four three-pointers in the final stanza as the Kings ran out to a seven-point lead with less than a minute remaining. Somehow we got ourselves back into it and almost sent the game to overtime with a long bomb from Peja Stojakovic in the final seconds. Unfortunately, it rimmed out, and we didn't get the win we didn't deserve.
  • Chris Paul had 14 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds and 6 steals. Good stats, bad game. This was the first time I've seen him where he didn't seem to want the ball in his hands down the stretch. We had a couple of shitty possessions late where Chris and Peja passed the ball back and forth for half the shot clock as if they were saying "You shoot!", "No, you shoot!" Those possessions ended with forced shots and 24-second violations.
  • Chris' shooting has also been way off of late. He was just 4-of-13 from the field tonight, and he's just 10-of-37 shooting in the Hornets last three losses. A few weeks ago you couldn't leave him open because he has nailing that jumper all the way out to three-point range. That's not working for him anymore, and that makes it much easier for the other team defending him on the pick and roll.
  • David West was a monster tonight, finishing with 30 points, 15 rebounds, and six billion needlessly faked jump shots. Seriously, I thought he played a good game at both ends, but his hesitation to pull the trigger on those open looks drives me crazy. It's almost automatic now that when he catches the ball out high, first thing he'll do is fake the jumper. Doesn't matter if his defender is right there, or down the street at a sandwich shop, West is going to fake that jump shot just in case.

    Methinks Weezy needs to watch some tape of Rip Hamilton. That dude knows how to catch and shoot.

  • Tyson Chandler finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. He played decent. We looked inside to him our first two possessions of the game, which was surprising. Before the game, Byron Scott was talking big about how we could ill afford another slow start, but then it seemed our early game plan was to utilize Tyson's fantastically limited low-post super-moves. Good call.

    How about we try get Chris Paul's offense going early for a change? That might be an idea, because the dude has made just one single field goal before halftime in the past four games combined. Yes, one fucking field goal! That's clearly a problem. Let's isolate our MVP candidate in the first quarter and let him break some ankles and get the defense worried about him being an early scoring threat. That could work out pretty good.

  • Jannero Pargo shot like a dog tonight. That happens. JP is streaky and I can live with it. The onus is on Byron Scott to realize when Pargo's not working and to pull him before he shoots us into too deep a hole. Dude went 0-of-4 from the field in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, and finally Byron swapped him out for Morris Peterson.
  • I guess I'm blaming Byron a lot for the way things went tonight, but I think he deserves the criticism. Besides the aforementioned stuff, we had way too many possessions tonight where it looked like we had no idea what we were doing, what play we wanted to run. That has to come down to coaching. I'm also disturbed by the lack of intensity the Hornets have come out with in the past four games. Byron admits that's a problem and I'm sure he gives our guys hell about it behind closed doors, but whatever he's saying to try motivate them doesn't appear to be working.
  • At the Hive isn't happy with the coaching either:

    I just don't understand why Byron Scott is trying all this new stuff with so few games left in the season. Why did we go to Tyson Chandler for awkward looking drives on the first two possessions of the game? For much of the first quarter, it looked like we were fooling around with odd, never before seen offensive strategies. Chris Paul didn't turn up past the screen once, instead kicking it back to the wing every time. Don't tell me that's because of Sacramento's defense – he had the corner turned every single time and just stopped.

  • Gil McGregor's best/worst pun of the night: "There will be no Udrih." Hardy har.
  • Must give Gil and Bob props though for how positive and upbeat they're able to sound even when the Hornets come out and play with less effort than a lazy rock. I didn't hear the broadcast yesterday, but I'm sure they put a nice spin on us being down by 30 in the second quarter. I tell ya, if my entire family ever dies in a house fire and the fire truck runs over and kills my dog on the way to the blaze, I want Gil and Bob to break the news to me.
  • So the Kings' Shelden Williams is engaged to Candace Parker (who was in attendance tonight, by the way). Nice work, Shelden. She's the hottest 6-4 chick I've ever seen.
  • Play of the game: The opening tip. Tyson Chandler jumped very high and batted the ball back to David West. West then found Chris Paul to his right for the hand off, and Chris started dribbling the basketball. It was all very amazing.

So, Hornets back at it on Tuesday, when they'll host the Los Angeles Clippers in our final home game of the regular season. In the meantime, we get to watch the Lakers play the Spurs tomorrow. That should be interesting. Apparently if the Lakers win, the Spurs lose, and if the Spurs win, the Lakers lose.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I got that right.

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