News » Kings-Hornets Preview 2009-10-30

Kings-Hornets Preview 2009-10-30

Kings-Hornets Preview 2009-10-30For a team hoping to compete with the other Western Conference powers, the New Orleans Hornets came out flat in their opener.

The Sacramento Kings also didn't play well in their first game, but that's not much of a surprise.

The Hornets try to bounce back from a disappointing loss Friday night when they host a Kings team that finished with the league's worst record last season.

With the emergence of Chris Paul as one of the league's best players, New Orleans is expected to make a third straight trip to the playoffs.

Paul and the Hornets were eliminated by Denver in a first-round series last season, but the team is hoping to make a deeper run with the addition of Emeka Okafor as an inside scoring presence.

In Wednesday's season opener against San Antonio, Paul had 26 points and nine assists while Okafor finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds but New Orleans lost 113-96.

A sloppy start was a big reason for the defeat. The Hornets missed 16 consecutive shots in one stretch as the Spurs went on a 23-1 run.

"We know we still have a long way to go and we have some work to do, but we already realized this was going to be a work in progress," coach Bryon Scott said. "It's going to take some time. I did like some of the things that I saw, and we will continue to work on some things that we know we need work on."

Cleaning up some of their defensive mistakes should be one of their top priorities.

New Orleans had trouble slowing down the Spurs, who shot 52.3 percent from the floor and scored 44 points in the paint.

Defense was one of the Hornets' strengths last season, when they were fifth in scoring (94.3) and seventh in field-goal percentage (45.0).

While the defense wasn't up to par, Scott was impressed with the play of Okafor. Acquired in a trade with Charlotte in July, Okafor played 29 minutes and shot 8 of 14 from the floor after sitting out the preseason with an injured toe.

"He's pretty good," Scott said. "He's like a magnet for that ball."

David West also had a solid opener, finishing with 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting with nine rebounds and three steals.

In the Hornets' last game against the Kings - a 111-110 win in Sacramento on March 31 - West matched a career high with 40 points and Paul added 15 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.

Paul averaged 24.0 points and 13.0 assists in four games against the Kings last season with the Hornets winning three.

Sacramento is coming off a 102-89 loss at Oklahoma City on Wednesday in Paul Westphal's debut as coach.

Westphal was hired in June to replace interim coach Kenny Natt after the Kings finished with an NBA-low 17 wins last season.

Kevin Martin, seventh in the league with a 24.6-scoring average last season, finished with 27 points Wednesday, but just three after halftime. He shot 5 of 19 from the floor.

Tyreke Evans also didn't have much success from the field. The No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft, shot 5 for 16 for 10 points in 35 minutes.

"They're going to get better," Westphal said. "All we ever want to do is get better, and after that game, it should be pretty easy to see some improvement."

Play Basketball Hot Streak and win prizes!

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 30, 2009


Copyright ©, Inc. All rights reserved 2018.