Kings’ Inability to be Good at Basketball Results in 110-95 Hornets Victory

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Published: February 24, 2013

The Hornets played far from their best game tonight, but against a team as disorganized as the Kings, they were still good enough to cruise to an easy win thanks to a dominant fourth quarter.

After this game’s first three quarters, the Hornets were clinging to a six point lead, but the team was clearly not satisfied with their performance to that point. There were only two reasons that Sacramento was still in the game at all. First, though New Orleans had committed was winning the turnover battle 12-7, Sacramento was performing much better in transition, outscoring them in fast break points 18-8. Second, while the Hornets’ 49.3% to 42.2% field goal percentage advantage looked nice, they only held a slim 50.7% to 48.4% effective field goal percentage lead thanks to the Kings knocking down 8 of their first 12 three point attempts. Everything else was dead even; both teams had made eleven free throws and collected the same amount of offensive (11) and defensive (21) rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, however, Sacramento’s luck ran out. Excluding the last minute of the quarter (when New Orleans emptied its bench), the Hornets stretched their six point lead to 20 as Ryan Anderson (13 points) and Roger Mason Jr. (10 points) combined to outscore the entire Kings team (17 points) by themselves. The Hornets’ best two 3-point shooters made 4 of their 5 attempts from long range and went 3-3 from the line in the period. Couple that with again limiting the Kings to an eFG% under 50%, and the result was the Hornets running away with this one.

Three Keys to the Game

  1. Crash the offensive glass. The Hornets pulled down 15 offensive rebounds from their 44 missed shots, resulting in an offensive rebound rate of 34.1%. Naturally, this means that the Kings sported a defensive rebound rate of 65.9%, even worse than their league-worst 69.8% DRR coming into the game. Coach Williams obviously made this a priority with his bigs tonight, as  Davis, Lopez, Anderson, and Smith combined for 13 of those 15 (Anderson led the way individually with 5). The result was 18 second chance points, nearly four points higher than their 14.3 average per game. The only negative is that on the other side of the court, the Hornets allowed 20 second chance points on 11 offensive rebounds, a disturbingly high conversion rate.
  2. Take high-efficiency shots. In the second and third quarters, the Hornets scored 49 points on 46 shots. In the first and fourth quarters, they scored 61 points on 46 shots. The difference? Shot selection. In the second and third quarters, the Hornets attempted 69.6% of those 46 shots from the paint or the 3-point line. In the first and fourth quarters, the Hornets attempted 87.0% of their shots from those two high-percentage areas. When the Hornets got to high-efficiency spots on the court, good things happened for them.
  3. Disrupt passing lanes. The Hornets allowed a slightly higher assist/turnover ratio (1.53) than the Kings’ league-worst 1.33 average, but New Orleans held them to 20 assists, right in line with their third-worst 19.8 assist per game average. No one Sacramento player finished with over five assists, and their offensive sets were frequently iso-heavy. If not for making 12 of their 19 three-point attempts, this game likely would have been a blowout.

Other Notes:

  • Davis earned the game’s MVP award, making 9 of his 14 shots for 20 points and 8 rebounds. It seemed like every time he had the ball, he was throwing another dunk down. It looks like the game is starting to slow down for him.
  • The Kings’ John Salmons was 6-7 from the 3-point line, but 0-7 inside of it. That’s just so, so Kings.
  • Eric Gordon finished with 17 points on 13 shots and tallied 8 assists; that’s the good news. The bad news is that he committed a game high 5 turnovers, a problem that has been a recurring one since he returned to the lineup. It was nice to see Gordon displaying improved ball distribution ability, but the turnovers really need to come down.
  • Anderson and Smith were stat sheet fillers this evening. Anderson finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and a block, and Smith totaled 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Nice, well-rounded work from the Hornets’ two reserve big men.
  • Apart from Gordon, no other Hornets player turned the ball over more than once, and they only coughed it up nine times as a team. Greivis Vasquez was tonight’s poster boy for this stat, dishing out 13 assists while only committing one turnover.

 

The Hornets return to action Tuesday night at home as the Brooklyn Nets make their only trip to New Orleans.

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