The Kings beat the Hornets

I guess it gets worse before it gets better.

The odds couldn’t have been much more in the Hornets’ favor tonight. We were hosting a 4-8 Kings team — playing without a pair of starters and a key reserve — that had been blown out the night before in Memphis. Our guys hadn’t played since Saturday at Houston, which I had considered a good thing since it allowed Byron a few practices to get the offense flowing better, and some quiet time for the players to get good and angry and determined to play better.

I was pretty down on the Hornets’ chances this season after Saturday’s loss, and I had begun to wonder if perhaps I was being a little too pessimistic. After what I just saw at the Arena, I’m wondering no more. The Hornets just plain suck right now. In the past two weeks we’ve lost to the Bobcats and the Kings and been down 20 to both the Rockets and the Lakers. Even the two games we’ve won recently (against the Blazers and Heat) were only secured after some fourth-quarter heroics. This is not good and it’s not pretty and it’s not good. At all.

Let’s get to some bullets. I’ll throw all the feel-good stuff in the first one, then it’s all downhill from there.

  • Devin Brown looked nice tonight. Not so much above the shoulders, because he does have an abnormally round face, but he did shoot 5-of-8 from the field, grabbed a few nice rebounds, and generally seemed to have a positive influence whenever he was in the game. Julian Wright also gave solid minutes, at least until he turned it over trying a backdoor feed to Posey midway through the fourth, then made amends by giving up a three-point play on the ensuing Kings break. Oops. Byron promptly benched Ju Ju after that.
  • The “adjustments” that Scott alluded to in Tuesday’s Times-Picayune were in full effect tonight. From what I could tell, we adjusted our defense to give up lots and lots of layups, while our offensive adjustments seemed to involve about 5% more movement on the weak side of the floor, which translated to Peja stepping foot inside the three-point line at least once per quarter. How’d you like them apples, NBA? Your move, punks.
  • Okay, I’m not being fair. There actually was more movement offensively tonight. We still resorted far too much to David West going 1-on-3 (which never ended at all well), and Chris Paul making something happen with his mystical superbad dribbling skillz, but there definitely was some effort to get guys moving from the weak side, and Tyson and West also appeared to be more active away from the ball in the paint. But there were some problems with all that. The first was that we often ended up with guys mistiming cuts and picks and ending up in each others’ way. I guess that’s to be expected when we’re trying to do something different offensively, so no big deal. The second problem was that we just abandonded it all completely in the second half and went back to depending on our All-Stars to take over the ballgame and lead us to a win, while the three other dudes in white stood around and discussed the latest Bond movie. Unfortunately, that whole approach seems to be what got us into this mess in the first place.
  • But as bad as the offense still was, we could easily have won this game if we had just shut down the lanes to the basket. To their credit, the Kings got out and ran pretty good tonight, which resulted in a bunch of easy looks for them, but they also got plenty of the same in the halfcourt. They shot 54.7% from the field, which is just about the biggest number I can think of. John Salmons scored 29 points on 13-of-18 shooting, such accuracy a result of him getting to the rim almost every time.
  • Our worst defensive stretches actually came when the starters were in. I thought the reserves clamped down pretty good, but of course they couldn’t get the hang of that scoring thing. If only we could have done it like football and rolled out one unit for offensive trips and another for the defense, maybe we’d have won tonight.
  • Mo Pete didn’t play. He was warming up as usual before the game, but then appeared to be bothered by that right knee and hobbled off to the locker room. No word on his status.
  • For the record, I liked the latest Bond movie.
  • 4:31 left in the fourth quarter, and David West grabs his first and only rebound of the night. He played 36 minutes. Figure that one out.
  • Bobby Jackson dropped some daggers tonight, finishing with 8 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in 23 minutes. Like I said in the game thread comments, trading him away looks like a dumb move right now, with Bonzi checking his passport and Mike James running out of pine at the end of the bench. That deal did give us a better chance to go deep in the playoffs last season though. No regrets.
  • The best moments tonight were at halftime, with St. Augustine’s marching band doing Thriller all funky like, complete with the zombie acting leading into the dance moves. Right after that came the Flex Cam, with a little black kid doing some serious Bruce Leeness on the big screen, even losing the shirt for maximum effect.

That’s me done. Hornets back at it on Friday, when they make the trip back to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder. Yes, the same Thunder that have lost eight straight and are just 1-11 so far this season. The Hornets should murder those guys, right?


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