Sacramento finally got the monkey off their backs and got a road win on Saturday, but it'd be nice to close out this road trip with at least a couple wins, and both of these final games represent nice opportunities to do so. The Hornets are an improved team, and are finally showcasing some offense for the fans in Charlotte. Today's action tips off at 4:00 pm on CSN California and on KHTK 1140.
1. Can the Kings slow down the Hornets? For as long as the Hornets/Bobcats have been in existence (this iteration), they've tended to be a slow, grinding team that beat you with their defense. This year is different, with the Hornets sporting one of the best offenses in the NBA. Offseason additions like Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb and Jeremy Lin have given Charlotte a nice scoring punch, and they have six players averaging double digits. This Hornets team loves to shoot the three ball with the 5th highest three-point attempt rate in the league, and they hit the 7th highest percentage. For a team like Sacramento that can struggle to guard the perimeter at times, that's something to keep an eye on.
2. Another different starting lineup? I doubt we'll see the Kings go with the starting lineup they used on Saturday against the Magic, as the Hornets feature a big lineup with Nicolas Batum playing Shooting Guard and Marvin Williams at Small Forward. If anything I'd expect to see the Kings go back to having Caron Butler or Omri Casspi start at Small Forward if Rudy Gay continues to be out with injury, and Ben McLemore moving back to shooting guard. (UPDATE: Rudy Gay says he will play tonight)
3. Can the Kings get to the line? One of Charlotte's strengths on defense is that they have done a good job of keeping opposing teams off of the free throw line and staying out of foul trouble. That runs counter to Sacramento's plans, especially with DeMarcus Cousins, who does a ton of his damage at the free throw line.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Ben McLemore vs. Nicolas Batum
Batum might have been one of the more underrated acquisitions by any team this summer, and he's playing better than ever in Charlotte. He's hitting threes at a high rate and doing that little bit of everything that made him so valuable in Portland. Batum's size will make him a difficult matchup for Ben on both ends of the court.
CHARLOTTE MADE VLADE BALD!
Kings 111, Hornets 109 as the Hornets inexplicably decide to let Spencer Hawes try to shoot the game-winning attempt.