After starting the season 11-1, the Hornets are on a monster slide, going only 3-9 since their last game against the Kings and have lost their last 3 games. For December, New Orleans is 2-2 at home with wins against Detroit and Charlotte, and losses against New York and Oklahoma City. They lost all three road games to Miami, San Antonio and Philadelphia. And, they failed to score more than 84 pts in their road games and have only scored between 89-93 ppg at Home
In addition to last season’s starters Chris Paul, David West, and Emeka Okafor, the Hornets added Ariza as their starting SF and Belinelli as their starting SG. And, they added Willie Green to the backup SG spot and Jason Smith to the backup PF spot. Then on Nov 20th, the Hornets sent Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic to Toronto for Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks and David Andersen.
Andersen a 6-11 center has seen action in 4 games during December averaging 1.5 pts / 1.2 rebs in 6.5 mpg. Banks a 6-2 guard has yet to play a game for New Orleans and only played 3 games with Toronto. Jack and Luxury Tax relief from moving Peja’s contract seems to be the total point of the trade. Jack has played in 12 games for NOH averaging 5 pts/ 2 asts/ 2 rebs in 15.5 mpg. Bayless had only played 11 games for the Hornets and was averaging 4.5 pts/ 2.5 asts/ 1.5 rebs in 13.5 mpg. And, Peja had only played in 6 games scoring 7.5 pts/ 1 reb/ 1 ast in 15 mpg. So the trade certainly wasn’t the cause of New Orleans losing streak.
The Hornets started losing after they beat the Kings 75-71 and two days after the trade. The Hornet averaged 99.5 prior to the Kings game. Since then they have averaged 85.3 ppg in the last 13 games. Including a 88-70 loss to the Sixers in which the Hornets shot 30.4% from the field.
So how does a team go from 11-1 to 3-9 without any major injuries or player movement? Well, it’s not because of David West who’s playing better now than ever, averaging 20pts/ 8.3rebs in 33ppg on 54% shooting. Likewise for Memka Okafor, who’s averaging 8.7 pts/ 8.3 rebs in 30 mpg shooting 55%. Ariza’s scoring is down half a point over November, but his rebounding is up. At 10.6 ppg with 6 rebs and 2 asts in 34 mpg, his numbers are respectable but his shooting percentage has dropped to .366 field and .227 from beyond the arc. Marco Belinelli has really dropped off considerably after scoring 13.3 ppg on 47% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc in November, he down to 9.9 ppg on 35% field and 27% from 3-pt range in December. Chris Paul’s production has dropped from 20 ppg in Oct. to 14.6 ppg in December while still shooting over 48% from the Field and 44% from 3-pt range, and his assists have dropped from a season high of 10.5 per game in Nov. to 8.7 in December. Off the bench Greens scoring has dropped 3.5 ppg and Jason Smith has dropped 2 ppg also. And, none of the other players are averaging more than 3 ppg. So, it looks like the law of averages have finally caught up with the Hornets, and the jump shooters just aren’t making their shots. Their hot shooting early in the season helped them beat SAS, OKC, and Mia, but those three teams have come back and taken 5 games from the Hornets now that their jumpers aren’t falling.
While the Kings and Hornets have almost the exact same Turnover Rate, the Kings have a decisive advantage on the offensive glass ranking 3rd best (30rpg) to New Orleans 2nd worst (21.5 rpg). Both teams defend the rim well, and while the Kings give up more point inside 10 ft, the Hornets give up more from 3pt range.
NO gives up the 7th fewest made baskets at the rim on the 4th fewest attempts. But, they give up the 7th highest number of 3pt attempts and 8th most made 3’s.The Kings give up the 2nd fewest attempts at the rim but Sac gives up the highest number of attempts inside 10%. So, it seems that the Kings are preventing penetration all the way to the basket forcing teams to take more shots inside 10ft. Teams take the lowest number of 3’s against the Kings and make the lowest number of made 3’s at an eFG% of 53.3%.
In our last meeting both teams shot below 40%. New Orleans was out scored from the field by 1 FG even with a 12 FGA advantage, which was due to the Kings having 21 turnovers and the Hornets winning the offensive boards by 3. Okafor won the battle of the centers holding DeMarcus to 3-11 shooting and only 5 rebs, and Okafor blocked 5 shots including 3 by DeMarcus.
So, basically the Hornet seems to be vulnerable to good 3pt shooting teams which the Kings are not. And the Hornets are good at defending inside which is where the Kings are strongest offensively. And, while the Kings are a poor FG% team, their Offensive rebounding and 2nd chance points, might be enough to defeat the Hornets whose FG% has been on the decline.
We could be catching the Hornets at the right time, and certainly this could be our best chance for a victory in this road trip. We need to play an uptempo game, because Paul will kill us in the half court. DeMarcus and the other bigs will need to continue to pound it inside. And, we must avoid all the stupid turnovers, and move the ball with a purpose not just to move the ball. Lazy passes or passes to players not looking for the ball are killing us. We’re not going to win based on our defense which failed us again in Houston. We’re going to have to hope that the Hornets continue to shot poorly and that we control the offensive boards and don’t turn the ball over. Go King!