Sacramento 108 (5-8) | New Orleans 96 (5-5)
Ugly. That's a pretty good word for it.
Tonight the Kevin Martin-less Kings outplayed a healthy Hornets squad, who wasted a 20 PT, 15 AST, 4 STL performance from Chris Paul. Without Kevin Martin. Kevin Martin did not play. Oof.
Actually, outplayed isn't really the best word for it. The team stats were almost identical in every category with one solitary exception: 3 pointers. New Orleans dropped a horrific 2 out of 13 from beyond the arc, while Sacramento made a merely average 7 of 19. But last night, average was enough. And that's really the difference when it comes down to it.
Ok, so that's not really the whole story. In all honesty, we could have won this game. Keep in mind that we did outscore them in the first half without a single trey. So, a victory was imminent despite the poor percentage from deep if only a few other things had happened:
A. David West had pulled down more than 1 (ONE!) rebound and
B. John Salmons hadn't beat Rasual Butler off the dribble on every possession, ending the game with 29 PTs after going 13 of 18 from the field.
Seriously, Byron? You're not going to try a different defensive scheme when a mediocre 2 drops 30 points on you? Were you really that mad at Morris that he truly deserved 0 (ZERO!) minutes?
It's doubly frustrating that we lost this game considering that we could have jumped Houston in the divisional standings after they dropped a game without the services of any of their big 3.
Regardless, I'm not pressing the panic button yet. Remember that this Hornets squad dropped a game to Sacramento at the end of last season in a crucial quest to land atop the Western Conference standings. We missed that 1 seed by a single game.
It's still very early in a long season of 82 games. And though it does seem a little late to still be finding our sea legs, dropping to .500 is not devastating after only 10 games (though my buddy Curry pointed out that we haven't been at or below .500 since before last season).
We have a back-to-back against the Seattle Sloppy Seconds this weekend. If we can't close out those 2 games, then I'll cry "PANIC"... but not a second sooner.
Couple of observations before I leave you:
- Devin Brown played pretty well, chiming in with 13 PTs, 2 ASTs, 1 STL, and 3 REB (all offensive, actually). He seems serviceable for the time being over Mike "I'm not a pure point guard, I'm a scoring point guard" James. But we may need someone who can at least sort of run an offense behind CP. Ball handling is nice and all, but let's get some other people involved.
- Pretty cool sequence happened in the third that brought the score back to a tie. I'll just quote the game thread to make things easier: "Paul steal, Butler dunk, West steal, West dunk, Chandler block, Peja three. Right back in it." Ah, if only.
- At one point in the third, CP got doubled up near the Sacramento bench. But "doubled up" actually doesn't do the play justice, as Reggie Theus (the Sacramento coach) was on the sideline and practically yelling in CP's face. So, to recap, Chris was cut off from the court by 2 players and 1 coach. How is this not some kind of foul against the King's bench?
- I repeatedly wrote in my notebook that Armstrong doesn't know how to rebound. His 4 rebounds on the night came mostly away from the paint (or after Sacramento had begun transitioning). Boxing out is not his strong suit. Doesn't even own a suit like that as far as I can tell.
- It got all "Revenge of Bobby Jackson" out there towards the end of the game. Despite being quiet all night, B. Jax sunk 5 points on two impossible shots late in fourth that, even though we were all in denial, were pretty much the nail(s) in the coffin.
- In the continuing tradition of doing mindless games and contests during every timeout in an effort to keep the fans' attention, the Hornets have implemented a new contest: 77 seconds with 7up. Basically, at the start of the third quarter, they keep track of the amount of points scored for 77 seconds which then turns into prizes of 7up for one lucky fan (provided the team scores). It's dumb, but that's not the point. The point is that when the 77 second game was played last night, the Hornets put up a total of 2 (TWO!) points. After this happened, our incredibly annoying in-game promotion announcer lady declared that 2 points in 77 seconds was "not too bad." Hey Brittney, guess what? That pace comes to slightly less than 75 points a game. And, in the words of Sir Charles, "that's TORRRABLLLE."
- I've written in the past about my befuddlement with fans who wear any old jersey to Hornets games based, presumably, on the fact that sporting events require fans to wear jerseys of any kind. As such, there is rarely a shortage of Deuce McCallister, Drew Brees, or Reggie Bush jerseys littering the stands during home games. Hell, even LSU jerseys have been known to make appearances. It's a little strange, but at least they're behind their city, right? And opposing fans are no exception either; at last year's Pistons game, I saw a guy in a Red Wings jersey. Honest. Why am I telling you this? Because last night I saw a guy wearing a... wait for it... Washington Redskins jersey... Jason Campbell's to be precise. Now, google told me that DC is roughly 2,700 miles from Sacramento and 1,000 miles from New Orleans, so I ask you, the fans of the wide world of sports... WTF?!
Composed to: Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures