The Sacramento Kings wrap up their 17th and final back-to-back set of the season with a visit to New Orleans. A win would help them avoid matching a season-long six-game losing streak.
Gametime: 5:00 pm PST
Broadcast Information: Click here.
For Hornets perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Hornets247.
Kings Probable Starters (19-39)
|Isaiah Thomas||Marcus Thornton||Tyreke Evans||Jason Thompson||DeMarcus Cousins|
Marcus Thornton returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games with a bruised left calf. In defeat, he scored 16 points in 38 minutes. Jason Thompson came off the bench because of the match-up posed by Dirk Nowitzki. He is likely to return to the Kings’ starting line-up.
Hornets Probable Starters (15-42)
|Greivis Vasquez||Eric Gordon||Al-Farouq Aminu||Jason Smith||Chris Kaman|
Hornets guard Eric Gordon returned to New Orleans’ lineup recently after missing 51 games due to a tear in his right knee. However, he sat out Monday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers because of lower back tightness. He didn’t participate in shootaround today and his status for tonight’s game is uncertain according to John Reid of The Times Picayune.
You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
Joe Gerrity and Mason Ginsberg of Hornets247 join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Hornets match-up.
1. Match-up to watch?
Joe Gerrity: If Gordon plays, it Gordon vs Thornton. Hornets fans will never be able to forget Thornton and are understandably still skeptical of Gordon.
Mason Ginsberg: At this point in the season, we Hornets fans have come to realize that guys who we expect to suit up this morning may not actually be playing. If Monty decides to sit Ariza to “give Aminu and Thomas extra PT” like he did on Monday night, I’m going to have my eye on Aminu, who I expect will be defending Tyreke. Otherwise, I’ll be focusing on Greivis’ ability (or lack thereof) to stay in front of the much quicker Isaiah Thomas.
Jonathan Santiago: Marcus Thornton vs. Eric Gordon. Fingers crossed, this match-up finally happens (Gordon sat out the previous three meetings against the Kings). They’re very similar to each other in terms of playing style, but Gordon is more physically imposing and stronger than Thornton.
2. Stat that decides the game…
Joe Gerrity: Turnovers. Greivis Vasquez has kept control of the rock in the past few, but it’s not impossible that he’ll have an off night. If the balls starts getting kicked around a lot, I think the better offensive team wins– Sacramento.
Mason Ginsberg: Turnovers. In the two teams’ three meetings so far this season, the Kings are 3-0, averaging six less turnovers per game than the Hornets and getting nine more points off of those turnovers per game. The Kings’ average margin of victory in those 3 wins? Just under nine (+8.3, to be exact).
Jonathan Santiago: Free throw percentage. Though they lost, the Kings’ solved their fast break woes last night, scoring 24 points in transition against Dallas. Now the focus shifts over to their free throws, where they’ve been attrocious lately. In their last three games, the Kings are shooting 58.5 percent from the line – 15 percentage points lower than their season average.
3. More in need of the number one pick: the Kings or Hornets?
Joe Gerrity: I’ll say the Hornets since Sacramento already has DeMarcus Cousins, who I think has the potential to be one of the best big men in the game. The most talented young-ish player the Hornets have in the front court is Jason Smith.
Mason Ginsberg: Easily the Hornets, I’d say. The overall talent level between the two teams is close to even, but the amount of young talent on either team clearly favors the Kings. With a growing core of Thomas, Evans, Thornton, (Jimmer?) and Cousins, they don’t need to hit a home run on draft day as badly as the Hornets do.
Jonathan Santiago: The Hornets are more in need of a franchise player than the Kings. They’re a team with a few solid complimentary players and a potentially great number two in Eric Gordon (should he re-sign); landing Anthony Davis (should he declare) would accelerate the rebuilding process. The Kings look like they have a franchise player in Cousins, but pairing him with Davis would be a ridiculous coup.