The Kings played probably one of the best defensive games I have seen them play in at least the last five years, holding the Hornets to only 32.2% from the field. There were still lapses at times, but they were relatively few and far between. Perhaps the biggest problem on defense was keeping New Orleans off the offensive glass. They had 15 offensive boards, and it led them to have 12 more FGA than us, a huge reason we lost. We would make a great defensive play, but then New Orleans would get the ball back anyway, like for example on that critical last play when Luther Head forced Chris Paul to take a very tough shot, and then Marco Belinelli of all people comes up with the offensive rebound. That just shouldn't happen.
On offense, mistakes were our downfall. We continue to take way too long to get into our offense and end up having to force a decision. Turnovers killed us all game and New Orleans took advantage. We also continue to make some really poor decisions, again going to Dalembert early in the game down low. Why? There is another guy on the team that excels down low (Carl), and even though the Hornets were doing a good job fronting him early and keeping him away from the basket, Dalembert should be our 5th option on offense every time he's down there. These kind of mistakes cost us the game, a game we should have won. Still, its the 2nd game in a row we've played well defensively. Now we just need to be able to play offense and defense at the same time and we could actually be a pretty solid team.
Player Recaps and other notes after the jump.
- Luther Head was amazing as a defender. Absolutely amazing. He helped keep Chris Paul to 2-12 shooting, and he saved several baskets. His offense is another matter though. He's a good shooter, and showed it tonight, but he probably should not be in charge of running the offense. He dribbles a lot, and can't seem to decide what he wants to do. He had 4 turnovers and only 1 assist. Luther represents the problem with this team: we have to have him in to play defense, but then we don't have as good of an offense. If we put Beno in, our offense gets better, but our defense gets worse. It's a trade-off.
- Tyreke Evans was pretty ineffective offensively tonight and New Orleans did a good job keeping him out of the paint for the most part. And that inbound play the Kings ran at the end of the game was atrocious, as Tyreke spent at least 3 seconds of the precious 6.4 thinking about what to do before giving it to Cisco for a desperation airball three. He probably should've shot it. His defense wasn't as bad as it has been though and I think the players are really buying into working hard on that end.
- Again I don't understand why we run any plays at all for Sam Dalembert. I love, LOVE, what he brings defensively and on the glass, but I rarely want him touching the ball on offense, other than on the offensive glass.
- Donté Greene was another player who is bringing a lot defensively, and I was most impressed with how hard he's been attacking the glass, and it seems that he's definitely making a conscious effort this season to hit the boards after being an extremely poor rebounder the past few games. One thing he does need to work on is his shot though, he had several great looks for three that didn't go down, including that corner one in crunchtime that would've been huge. It's definitely an area he needs to keep working on because he's going to get open looks from outside and he needs to be able to capitalize consistently.
- DeMarcus Cousins was trying to do waaaaaaay too much out there, and it was to the detriment of the team. He was playing sloppy on offense, and he wasn't boxing out very well on defense, allowing the Hornets to grab some of those precious offensive boards (including that last one by Belinelli). It was to the point that I didn't understand why he was in the game instead of Jason Thompson, who played very well in the 8 minutes he saw action. I do have to wonder if we may have won the game with Jason in the game instead of DeMarcus, because DeMarcus was worth every bit of that -8 he had in the boxscore tonight.
- The one reason I think JT wasn't in the game was because his defense sort of stunk when he was playing. He left Jason Smith wide open three plays in a row, and he also left Trevor Ariza wide open for that three that beat the halftime buzzer.
- Carl had an off-game and I have to credit David West and the Hornets defense, who did a great job of keeping him away from the basket and denying him the basketball. He was forced to shoot jumpers most of the time, and as we know, he's much less effective when that happens or he has to put the ball in the floor. He really doesn't react all that well to double teams either, and that one pass in the fourth where he tried to whip it to the other baseline (ended up being a turnover) just epitomized how this Kings team doesn't really know how to move the ball around. Go for short, easy passes instead of the pass that has to go through the entire opposing team.
- Cisco was very active when he was in the game, and he played some great defense on Marcus Thornton (who really doesn't look that good right now) and he was one of the few Kings to not turn the ball over. His three point shot (0-2) seems to have left him as of late though, which is kind of strange, although that last one wasn't really fair to count against him as he had to let it go almost as soon as he touched it over two Hornets defenders.
- Free Throws: We lost by 4, and we shot 9-15 from the line. Even Luther missed his sole free throw opportunity.
- Still, this kind of effort from the Kings on the defensive end is great to see, and hopefully keeps up. But we really, really need to work on the offense, especially moving the ball and getting into our plays earlier in the shot clock.