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Kings vs Hornets Preview: A Buzz About Sacramento

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Fresh off of their first post All-Star Break win, the Kings don’t have long to celebrate: Charlotte is in town, and looking to quiet the buzz on an upstart Sacramento squad.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

After what must have been the most cathartic win in Kings franchise history, Thursday night’s victory against the Denver Nuggets rang in the new era in Kings basketball in style; a free flowing event, in which the Kings found ways to out score a team full of scores and out rebound a much better rebounding team than Sacramento. Saturday’s encore performance will be an afternoon game against the Charlotte Hornets and with a team much more defensively declined, it spells out the first real test of Sacramento’s overhaul. Let’s talk Kings basketball.

When: Saturday, January 25th; 2:00 pm PST

Where: Golden 1 Center, CSN-CA, KHTK Sports 1140 AM

Matchup & Breakdown

Team Stats

Team Points Per Game Opp. PPG Pace Offensive Rtg Defensive Rtg 3 Pt % 2 Pt % Total Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Player Fouls
Team Points Per Game Opp. PPG Pace Offensive Rtg Defensive Rtg 3 Pt % 2 Pt % Total Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers Player Fouls
Kings 103.2 (22nd) 105.6 (15th) 94.6 (26th) 107.9 (16th) 110.4 (23rd) 36.4% (13th) 49.8% (18th) 41.2 (24th) 22.7 (10th) 8.2 (6th) 4.0 (25th) 14.6 (22nd) 20.7 (24th)
Hornets 104.5 (18th) 104.4(10th) 96.8 (13th) 107.2 (19th) 107.1 (8th) 35.0% (23th) 48.1% (28th) 44.9 (4th) 23.2 (9th) 6.6 (30th) 5.1(11th) 12.1 (2th) 17.0 (1st)

Opposition Stats

Team Opp FGM Opp FGA Opp FG% Opp 3PM Opp 3PA Opp 3P% Opp 2PM Opp 2PA Opp 2P% Opp Turnovers
Team Opp FGM Opp FGA Opp FG% Opp 3PM Opp 3PA Opp 3P% Opp 2PM Opp 2PA Opp 2P% Opp Turnovers
Kings 37.7 (9th) 81.4 (7th) 46.3% (23th) 11.1 (29th) 29.8 (28th) 37.3% (26th) 26.6 (4th) 51.7 (2nd) 51.5% (27th) 14.7(9th)
Hornets 39.4 (19th) 88.0 (24rd) 44.7% (5th) 11.3 (30th) 31.4 (30th) 35.9% (16th) 28.1 (10th) 56.6 (9th) 49.6% (9th) 12.8 (30th)

So What Does It All Mean?

Well, for one, if Kings fans are looking for a repeat performance, they’re going to be going to have to do it against a team that is much more successful on the defensive end of the court. Charlotte holds their opponents to the fifth lowest field goal percentage in the league and the tenth least amount of points. The Kings might not have looked like a team struggling to score against the Nuggets but the fact remains, they don’t have a go-to guy as of yet. This makes them dangerous in the sense that the Hornets won’t know where the points will be coming from, but the other side of it is, the Kings don’t know where the points will be coming from either.

The Hornets are a team that is hellbent on limiting their mistakes. There conservative defense means that they’ve allowed a league high amount of opponent makes and attempts from long distance, but they’re also the least likely team in the league to foul you, and are the second best team in the league in terms of holding onto the ball; turning the ball over only a hair over 12 times a game. They have the eight best defensive rating in the league and while they’re last in the league in steals, they also force their opponent’s into the ninth most turnovers per game.

Kings Focus

The Kings focus tonight should be on continuing to move the ball as much as they can. Denver’s comeback on Thursday came directly after the ball movement died to start the third quarter and when matched up against a defense that doesn’t want to pressure your passes, they’ll have to move the ball quick to throw off the Hornets rotations. If they can keep the ball movement crisp and limit the amount of turnovers that occur, the Kings can use the unknowns about their new make-up as an advantage. If the pressure to perform up to the level of last game gets to guys like Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein, we’re apt to see more turnovers, and with that, more chances for Charlotte to execute a below average offense.

Another focus of the Kings should be squarely on not trying to out perform Thursday’s game. With the emotion that comes from losing a franchise centerpiece and everything the game against Denver meant to the franchise, its players, and fans, a bit of a let down is to be expected, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Shots aren’t always going to fall, hype isn’t always going to will you to victory. Some night’s are a slog, and facing a team as composed as Charlotte is, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a game just as frustrating as Denver’s win was joyous. Sacramento should look to play consistent and sustainable basketball. Willie going for 29 and 10 isn’t sustainable. Skal coming out with 8 might even be asking too much for a guy of his experience level. But the more important part for the Kings should be not expecting that sort of perform every night. Play team basketball, take your opportunities when they come, and work your hardest, and the fans at the Golden 1 Center will come away happy.

Match-Up of the Game

Darren Collison and Ty Lawson vs Kemba Walker: Former UConn point guard and first time All-Star Kemba Walker is the heart, soul, sinew, teeth and spleen for the Charlotte Hornets and if Sacramento wants a shot at two games in a row coming off the break, they’re going to need to find a way to stop, or at least contain, the Hustlin’ Husky. [I just heard a thousand eyebrows raise in unison, but Isaiah isn’t using the nickname anymore, and its perfectly fine and just laying around collecting dust so, get off my back!] With a combined 23 points and 16 assists between them in the previous game against Denver, Darren Collison and Ty Lawson did a fine job running point for the Kings, and while neither Darren nor Ty’s looked comfortable shooting, they still found ways to contribute. Tonight’s assignment will be a lot tougher guard than Jameer Nelson and Emmanuel “Kings Made a Mistake” Mudiay. Kemba is currently averaging 22.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists all while shooting 39.7% from deep and in his last game against the Kings spent his time cutting up the defense in his usual fashion to the tune of 26-3-7. This time around Kemba is attacking a whole new team, and while Darren Collison’s game against Charlotte was a meager 17 points, 2 assists, Ty Lawson picked up some of the slack; scoring only two points, but dishing out 9 assists. For the Kings to be successful, the two headed hydra has to again find a way to pick up slack from where the other is sagging.

Prediction

Did you hear that Willie Cauley-Stein is a beast now? Did you hear that Skal’s the next Chris Bosh? Malachi Richardson is the new Jordan and Buddy Hield is basically Steph Curry if Steph Curry were as good as Buddy Hield, so I doubt that the Hornets even show up tonight. The Kings will have a two pm scrimmage and the purple beats the white team on a buzzer beater.

Kings: 102, Hornets: 0

Game Day Distraction