Kings Can’t Slow Hornets, Lose Fifth Straight


Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Just another ho-hum effort from the Sacramento Kings devoid of any semblance of offensive or defensive efficiency. There just wasn’t enough energy, enough team play, and unsurprisingly, enough defense to hang around in this one for four quarters. The Kings skated along for much of the game, teetering dangerously close to the losing cliff. Finally, they fell off in the fourth quarter, allowing New Orleans to score at will while failing to convert their own chances. The Hornets ran away for a 110-95 win, extending the Kings losing streak to five.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS — Sometimes numbers tell the story, and in this one, Sacramento was outplayed in nearly every facet of the game. The Hornets outshot the Kings 50.6 to 42.2 percent from the field while outrebounding Sacramento by a 46-38 margin. New Orleans also proved to be far more efficient offensively, handing out 31 assists against just nine turnovers. By comparison, the Kings posted 20 assists to 13 turnovers, failing to ever find any cohesion on that end of the floor. For the most part, Isaiah Thomas (34 MIN, 16 PTS, 6-14 FG, 5 AST, 3 REB, 2 STL) struggled with the bigger Greivis Vasquez, and his struggles brought the Kings offense to halt.

SALMONS CATCHES FIRE — The truth is, this one could have been a lot uglier if not for the torrid shooting of John Salmons. Salmons went scoreless in the first half, and he looked destined for his fifth straight game of single-digit scoring. But something clicked in the third quarter. Salmons (37 MIN, 18 PTS, 6-14 FG, 6-7 3FG, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO) found himself in open areas and let it fly, and the results were extremely positive. The Kings fell behind by as much as 13 in the third, but Salmons ripped home five three-pointers in the first 8:21 of the quarter. His shooting spurred an 11-0 run that brought Sacramento within two points before New Orleans again pulled away. Salmons contributions, which were far greater a couple months ago ago, are desperately needed on this team.

NEW PLAYERS DRESS, SIT — Keith Smart will point to a long day of travel and no practices with the team as a reason for keeping new acquisitions Patrick Patterson and Toney Douglas on the bench. But really, Patterson could have played more. It’s not a major deal, but why not get him out there? It’s not as if the Kings run some elaborate offensive system that requires ample practice time before executing. The Kings offense is usually a disjointed mess (as it was Sunday), and Patterson can certainly get out there, set some picks and pop some jumpers without embarrassing himself. Smart gave Patterson (2 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-2 FG) a token appearance with the game well in hand, while Douglas reached the scorer’s table before being called back with under a minute left. Nobody is expecting Douglas to play major minutes, but it was nice to see him be a vocal presence on the sideline. Meanwhile, Cole Aldrich remained in Sacramento to undergo futher injury evaluation.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS — Tyreke Evans had an ugly game, frequently getting to the rim but failing to finish. It has been a tough week for Evans (34 MIN, 12 PTS, 4-16 FG, 2-3 3FG, 4 AST, 3 REB) since the All-Star break, as the guard shot 33.3 percent in the Kings three games … DeMarcus Cousins (37 MIN, 16 PTS, 5-13 FG, 6-6 FT, 10 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL) was a huge reason for the Kings sloppy defense. He continues to take unnecessary gambles, from trying to jump passes to the high post to swiping at passing ball-handlers. After a productive first quarter, DMC really took a dive … Jason Thompson (28 MIN, 16 PTS, 8-11 FG, 9 REB, 3 TO) played a strong game, serving particularly well as a mop-up guy around the basket. Always gotta appreciate Thompson’s effort.