Game 5 Preview: Kings vs. Hornets

The new-look New Orleans Hornets come to Power Balance Pavilion this evening for a New Year’s Day match-up against the struggling Sacramento Kings.  Gone is superstar Chris Paul and all-star David West, but the Hornets still have a deep and formidable line-up, including former King Carl Landry.  The Hornets have gone 1-1 without Eric Gordon, who suffered a bruised right knee in the first game of the season.  Jarrett Jack has stepped into the bulk shooter role in Gordon’s absence, hoisting up 17 shots per game but is shooting just 38-percent from the field.

The Kings are in disarray.  Following the team’s loss last night to the Knicks, both Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins let comments fly to the media, questioning the direction of the offense.  The team has had moments of quality play, but overall, there is a clear lack of cohesion that must be remedied quickly.  After playing three games in four nights to start the season, the Kings are now in game number two of a five-games-in-six-nights set. Tonight’s contest is crucial with a daunting back-to-back-to-back string of games beginning Tuesday.

Gametime: 6 pm PST
Television Coverage: Comcast Sportnet California
Radio Coverage: 1140 AM The Fan
For perspective on the Hornets, visit fellow THN blog “Hornets247“.

Kings Starters (1-3)

Coach Westphal is still searching for the right mix for his young team.  Newcomers J.J. Hickson and Travis Outlaw have struggled to fit in through four games, leaving Westphal little choice but to turn to Jason Thompson and Donté Greene.  After playing less than a minute total over the teams first three games, Greene stepped in on Saturday night against the Knicks and made an immediate impact, scoring 10 points in 12 minutes.  Rookies Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas are still getting the bulk of the reserve minutes in the backcourt.  Veteran Francisco Garcia has yet to step on the floor for the Kings this season, receiving four straight DNP-CD’s.

Hornets Starters (2-1)

  • Jarrett Jack
  • Marco Belinelli
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Carl Landry
  • Emeka Okafor

Eric Gordon is doubtful for the game, which changes a lot of things for the Hornets.  Marco Belinelli is likely to start alongside Jarrett Jack, leaving more bench minutes for Greivis Vasquez and Al-Farouq Aminu.  Veterans Chris Kaman and Jason Smith anchor the Hornets front court off the bench, which gives the Hornets a nice mix of power and athleticism.

Match-up of the Game

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Carl Landry:  Landry spent half of last season wearing Kings purple and black before being dealt to New Orleans for the high-scoring Marcus Thornton.  While Landry is off to a fast start, averaging 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, Cousins has struggled mightily.  So far this season, Cousins has made a living drawing offensive fouls against his opponents.  Don’t count on Landry falling into that trap tonight.  The fifth-year forward out of Purdue is deliberate and patient in the post, both traits that Cousins lacks at this point in his career.  Cousins has a major advantage in size and strength over Landry, which makes this an interesting match up.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also provides game day coverage for NBA.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart".