Kings 96, Hornets 80: "It's bad when you set records on back to back nights..."

The quote in the title comes via a comment from 247_Hornet in the game-thread (a tradition I'm stealing from the supremely aromatic Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting. Write a good comment and forever be preserved in the fossilized resin of the internet!).

And it's dead on. The Hornets shot a franchise record low from the floor in their loss to Phoenix, and somehow managed to look even worse tonight.

This team is simply not good at offense. And we can blame the "offensive gameplan" or lack thereof as much as we want, but the fact remains: this team is not good at offense because it doesn't have many good offensive players.

Combined with a point guard that could barely cross the timeline and initiate the offense without throwing the ball to the other team, you get a blowout at the hands of the Sacramento Kings.

Some more thoughts below the fold.

- Perhaps in response to the anemic offense, Monty Williams emphasized the post and deep catches early in the first quarter. Emeka Okafor took 5 shots within the first 5 minutes, making 3 of them (a couple through lucky bounces). Against an undersized Kings front line lacking DeMarcus Cousins, it was a reasonable enough gamble.Throughout the game, this strategy was continued with heavy emphasis on Kaman-Okafor lineups. Eventually, Sacramento countered by doubling bigs and forcing guards to make plays.

- And outside of Trevor Ariza and Greivis Vasquez, every perimeter ball handler for the Hornets fell flat on his face. Let's start with Jarrett Jack - 3 for 11 shooting, 8 turnovers. Many of his 8 assists came off of broken plays. His turnovers came off of lazy one handed passes, passes thrown without even looking at recipients. This was an absolutely atrocious night. Jack routinely messed up the first pass leading into Hornet plays - basically, the Hornets couldn't even begin a number of their offensive sets because Jarrett Jack couldn't even bring them that far. Even on possessions where he wasn't the primary playmaker, Jack still found ways to foul up the offense.

- It's wildly clear that Greivis Vasquez is the better passer and creator of shots for teammates. Let's not jump to conclusions and call for him to start the very next game over Jack because it's still a tiny sample. But even in tonight's game, Monty Williams showed that this could well be something that happens in the future. He yanked Jack quickly in the third and sent a message again in the fourth by pulling him after an especially idiotic pass (leaving everyone else on the floor in).

- Vasquez didn't shoot well, going 3 for 9 from the floor. But he was aggressive in the pursuit of his own shot, getting to the rim often (one of his six misses was a vicious chase down swat by Tyreke Evans) and moving to open space with ease. More importantly, he registered 8 assists versus 2 turnovers, always looking for open teammates.

- A really poor night from Marco Belinelli, but I honestly thought most of his shots (especially in the 1st quarter) came within the rhythm of the game. He just missed open looks. As the game wore on, he started forcing some less efficient efforts, but he's simply not going to go 0 for 7 from three on a regular basis. Lots of negatives for the Hornets to study all around, but for Marco, I think this needs to be a game that's just washed away.

- Emeka Okafor put in 13 points, 12 rebounds (5 offensive), and his backup, Chris Kaman, outdid him with 14 and 15. Granted, Kaman's 14 points didn't come in the most efficient way possible (5 for 13 shooting), but this game is a lot uglier without his presence on the bench. Unfortunately, Kaman also had 3 turnovers and could easily have had 2 more given luckier bounces for the Kings.

- Defensively, it was a tale of two halves. The Hornets allowed just 38 points on 46 possessions in the first half, good for a 82.6 defensive efficiency (107 is league average). In the second half, it ballooned to 58 points allowed on 44 possessions, or a 131.8 defensive efficiency. New Orleans simply couldn't keep Sacramento for penetrating in the third and fourth quarters, and poor perimeter rotations ensured that kickout passes led to open three after open three. Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans finished with 52 points on 36 shots, including 15 trips to the line. The defense finished the night with an effort right around league average (106.7 defensive efficiency) but that doesn't mean the defense wasn't flawed either.

- That offense though... yikes. Eric Gordon looks set to miss tomorrow's game as well, so no rest for the weary.

- Al-Farouq Aminu got more than ten minutes today and he flashed the one truly elite skill he had in his college days - rebounding. Aminu picked up 3 offensive and 3 defensive boards and could have had a couple more too. Unfortunately, he's one of the worst dribblers in the league right now, and he's lucky he only finished with two turnovers.

- Finally, Gustavo Ayon and Trey Johnson got in the game late on. Ayon picked up a very respectable Two Million in his NBA debut, while Johnson managed to pick up some statistics, going 2 for 2 for 4 points and 2 offensive rebounds.

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