Yikes. What happened Wednesday night? The Kings came out flat for the season opener and were bullied around in the paint. They made Nenad Krstic look like Patrick Ewing. The biggest difference between the Thunder and the Kings on Wednesday night? Shooting. The Thunder shot over 50% from the field, over 50% from three and they had a True Shooting Percentage of 60%. The Kings on the other hand shot 40% from the field, under 20% from three, and had a TS% of 48. Can’t win games if you can’t make shots and can’t stop the other team from making shots – simple as that.
As for the Hornets, they’re coming off of a bad-ish loss to the San Antonio Spurs in which they were pretty much dominated after getting off to a hot start. They couldn’t handle the Spurs size or depth. They ended up dropping the game 113-96, despite a great effort from Chris Paul.
And with that…on to tonight’s game!
Opponent: New Orleans Hornets
Tip-off Time: 5:00PM PST
Where To Watch: Comcast Sports Net
Record Last Year (Home Record): 49-33 (28-13)
Record Against Last Season: 1-3, 1-1 in New Orleans
Kings Out With Injury: Francisco Garcia (Wrist), Kenny Thomas (Flu)
Hornets Out With Injury: None
What the Hornets Did Well Last Year: Offensive Efficiency (12th), Turnover Percentage (6th), Defensive Efficiency (9th), Opponent’s Shooting (12th), Opponent’s Offensive Rebounding (7th)
There is not a more passionate Hornets fan and not a more Twitter-dominating Hornets fan than TickTock6 from HornetsHype.com. She is one of the most knowledgeable Hornets people you’ll ever meet and she’s been kind enough to join us in figuring out the matchups for tonight’s game.
Point Guard: Tyreke Evans vs. Chris Paul
Hornets Hype says: Chris Paul, on his home floor, versus a rookie? Even a highly-touted lottery pick rookie? Yikes. No, seriously, I don’t know much about Evans because I don’t watch college ball, but CP’s just got the smarts to run circles around all but the quickest and savviest point guards in the league. Plus he’s got those sneaky stealing hands. Well, hopefully the kid can learn something as he gets schooled…
Cowbell Kingdom says: I was impressed with the way Tyreke Evans handled himself against top point guards like Steve Nash and Deron Williams in the preseason. He was fairly poised and produced nicely against two of the best point guards in the league. With that said, Chris Paul is a completely different beast. He is THE best point guard in the NBA. He is very opportunistic with forcing turnovers and taking advantage of mental lapses by his opponents. Evans is going to have to use his size to protect the ball and should try to punish Paul inside in order to get him tired and into foul trouble early. Chris Paul should dominate this matchup as he does almost every matchup. But it’s a great test for Evans to see what he can do against the very best.
Shooting Guard: Kevin Martin vs. Morris Peterson
Hornets Hype says: Kings’ best scorer versus Hornets’ weakest starter. Mo Pete’s actually a solid defender, and he and Martin are listed at the exact same size. But realistically this is where the Kings are just gonna get buckets no matter what. Actually, now that I think about it, I would not be at all surprised if the Hornets switched up and put Julian Wright on him. JuJu is an athletic one on one defender with a ridiculous wingspan. This one is advantage Kings, though.
Cowbell Kingdom says: I was playing NBA 2K10 the other day and randomly ended up being the Hornets for a game. They had Morris Peterson on the team and I honestly thought I put in NBA 2K8 because I had no clue he was still in the league. Kevin Martin should absolutely own this matchup because he’s not only better than Mo Pete but he’s also a lot more athletic. He can use his length and speed to get wherever he wants on the court against Peterson. Martin started out last game very well but faded in the second half. If Wright comes in early, Martin will have to outsmart the lanky defender with the low basketball IQ. I give this matchup to Martin regardless of who is guarding him.
Small Forward: Desmond Mason vs. Julian Wright
Hornets Hype says: Ooh, a former Hornet. It’s tough at this point to know what we’re going to get out of Julian on a nightly basis, although you can usually expect at least a solid 8-8 and some fun athletic plays. JuJu is that quick, gangly, long, athletic type of guy. His shot is probably his weakness at this point, but he’s still figuring out how to fit in with the starters. You can safely label Wright as an unknown quantity for tonight.
Cowbell Kingdom says: Julian Wright isn’t exactly the smartest player in the league. He makes bad decisions and if he can’t dominate with athleticism, he can be pretty useless. So when Mason is on the court, he can think his way into making this matchup pretty even. However, Mason showed in game one that he should never take a jump shot. He’s such a liability on offense that I don’t see him playing more than 18 minutes in this game. Wright takes this matchup by default.
Power Forward: Jason Thompson vs. David West
Hornets Hype says: Sure, D West is a slightly undersized 4, but it hasn’t really bothered him in the past and it won’t tonight. The last time the Kings and Hornets met, he had a monster 40-9-6 line. He won’t be that good, but he’ll be good enough to win this matchup.
Cowbell Kingdom says: I’ve always looked at Jason Thompson being a bigger, lesser version of David West. I think if Thompson settles into a comfortable game instead of the game he should develop, it will resemble West. With that said, West is a really good basketball player and can use his veteran savvy and skill set into getting JT into foul trouble. I think West takes this one if he can get early fouls against Thompson, otherwise it might be pretty even.
Center: Sean May vs. Emeka Okafor
Hornets Hype says: I would say, hey, you luck out getting Okafor on his second game ever with this team (he missed the entire preseason with an injury and only started practicing this week), but he came out and dropped a cool 18-10 at San Antonio the other night, so I guess we can consider him acclimated. Plus, May and Okafor are former teammates from Charlotte days. I’m sure he can handle him.
Cowbell Kingdom says: If Sean May made Nenad Krstic look like Patrick Ewing, he’s going to make Emeka Okafor look like Teen Wolf. Okafor takes this matchup every day of the week.
Hornets Hype says: I had to go look up who’s on the Kings bench. Sorry. Hawes and Nocioni… OK. Some rookies and young guys. Too bad about Garcia. The Hornets bench is their weakness, but if the group ever gels it could do some damage. The Hornets are going to roll with Peja Stojakovic, James Posey, Bobby Brown, and Darius Songaila. Oh, and Hilton Armstrong, but the Kings probably won’t have to worry about him. This unit had a terrible, terrible outing at SA the other night. I expect them to be better. I also expect them to specifically run more plays for Peja. The jury (consisting of me) is still out on Bobby Brown… really out. He can score, but he did an awful job of getting the rest of the bench involved, resulting in a 30-0 Spurs bench advantage in the first half of that game. I’d like to see Marcus Thornton, who was averaging 12 PPG in preseason, and rookie PG Darren Collison, but Byron Scott will enrage me by not playing them. I’ll go with Hornets because this group got seriously called out and will be looking to prove something.
Cowbell Kingdom says: Oh TickTock, I remember those Bobby Brown feelings as well. The King of R&B can be fun to watch but he’s a terrible point guard. The bench was the only bright spot for the Kings in their loss to the Thunder. Casspi came out and set the world on fire with his 15 points on nine shots. I don’t know that he’ll be as effective tonight but he definitely will play defense and be ready to contribute. The key will always be what kind of player Spencer Hawes wants to be from night to night. He should be able to dominate any second unit center in the league. The fact that he could go up against someone as terrible as Hilton Armstrong should make all Kings fans giddy. Beno Udrih should find his way into the lineup tonight and if he plays decently and gets everybody involved, the Kings bench should out perform the Hornets. With that said, I’m going with a push.
Hornets Hype says: The Hornets will be mad about dropping the first game by a ton of points. They’ll be fired up because it’s their home opener. The team will have been working the past two days on fixing the atrocious defensive rotations. Okafor and Chris Paul will have had two more days of practice together. The bench will be mad because they’re veterans and their lack of scoring was embarrassing the other night. The only King who ever gave us fits (John Salmons) doesn’t play there anymore. New Orleans will win.
Cowbell Kingdom says: The Hornets are obviously a better team than the Thunder and so it makes me very pessimistic about the Kings chances of pulling off a road win in Nola. The Kings biggest problem is stopping teams from scoring inside and rebounding. Well, they’re going against two big men in West and Okafor that can do that fairly well. It’s going to take big efforts from Hawes and Thompson along with Tyreke Evans slowing down Chris Paul’s penetration. Really, you just want to see the Kings compete, which they didn’t do for much of last game. They’re probably not beating this team on the road this time but as long as they can put up a fight, you’ll live with that kind of progress.
I’ll say Kings lose but hopefully it’s one of those supposed “moral victories.”