Game 24 Preview: Kings at Hornets

For the second time this season, the Sacramento Kings are riding a two-game win streak.   They look to add to that total tonight in Louisiana, where they begin a brief back-to-back road trip.  Their opponent?  A struggling New Orleans Hornets team, who they’ve beaten before this lockout-condensed season.

Gametime: 5:00 pm PST
Broadcast Information: Click here.
For Hornets perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Hornets247.

Kings Probable Starters (8-15)

Tyreke Evans Marcus Thornton John Salmons Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

In the Kings two-game homestand, Smart used J.J. Hickson, Chuck Hayes, Francisco Garcia, Travis Outlaw and Isaiah Thomas off the bench, leaving Jimmer Fredette, Donté Greene and Tyler Honeycutt as the odd-men out of the rotation.  However playing two games in two nights, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Greene and Jimmer get some minutes in this two-game road trip.

Another interesting tidbit, the Kings ball movement is making strides.  In four of the last seven games, they’ve have recorded 20 or more assists as a team.  In the first 13 games of the season, they failed to accomplish that feat at all.

Hornets Probable Starters (4-20)

Greivis Vasquez DaJuan Summers
Trevor Ariza Jason Smith Emeka Okafor

In hopes of a trade, the Hornets sent veteran big man Chris Kaman home, but the trade market has been sparse.  And now with former King Carl Landry out after sustaining a left knee injury Saturday against the Detroit Pistons, New Orleans decided to bring Kaman back into the fold.  They hope he can help stop the bleeding as the Hornets have lost five games in a row.

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

Joe Gerrity of Hornets247 and Rohan Cruyff of SB Nation’s At The Hive,  join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Hornets match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Joe Gerrity: Every time Marcus Thornton comes into town, that’s the matchup Hornets fans are watching. 

Rohan Cruyff:  I’ll go with Trevor Ariza vs. John Salmons, for the hilarity factor.

Jonathan Santiago:  Emeka Okafor vs. DeMarcus Cousins.  Though the numbers may say otherwise, Okafor has been playing well, according to our friends at Hornets 247.  Defensively, we know what he brings, so it should be interesting to watch if he can slow down Cousins, who’s fresh off his first career 20-20 game.

2. Stat that decides the game…

Joe Gerrity: Turnovers. When the Hornets win it’s largely correlated to how well they control the ball.

Rohan Cruyff:  Hornets on the offensive glass. Neither team takes particularly great care of the basketball, neither plays even passably efficient offense and the Kings’ strong offensive rebounding should be met by the Hornets’ equally strong defensive rebounding. But on the flip side, no team rebounds more poorly on the defensive end than Sacramento and that could be the difference.

Jonathan Santiago:  Kings offensive rebounds.  The Hornets currently rank fourth in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage.  The Kings, meanwhile, rank second behind the Chicago Bulls in offensive rebounding percentage.  Something’s got to give tonight.

3. Fact or Fiction: Chris Kaman makes an immediate impact in his return to the Hornets lineup.

Joe Gerrity: Fact. With Landry out and Smith day-to-day, Kaman may play 30-plus minutes. He almost always makes an impact one way or the other when he gets that much time.

Rohan Cruyff:  The Hornets will be looking to showcase Kaman from now through the trade deadline, but fiction. Kaman’s simply not a very efficient scorer, he’s turnover prone and his biggest strength – defensive rebounding – matches up poorly with the Kings’ terrific offensive rebounding this season.

Jonathan Santiago:  Fiction.  If the Hornets want to win, he’ll have to.  Landry is out due to injury and Smith remains questionable.  However, he’ll have his work cut out for him against a Kings frontline that played tremendous against Golden State Saturday.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.