Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hornets beat the (YAWN) Kings

Posted By on Sun, Dec 21, 2008 at 4:19 AM

click to enlarge d-west dunk

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Photo by Jonathan Bachman

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When you look at the stats behind the Hornets' 99–90 victory over the Sacramento Kings tonight, it all seems like business as usual. Chris Paul scored 34 points along with nine assists and a season-high eight steals. Five Hornets scored in double digits, including James Posey (19) and Morris Peterson (10) coming off the bench. New Orleans also forced Sacramento into committing 18 turnovers.

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Yup, business as usual. Or at least that's how it seems.

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With the Kings coming into this game having won just seven games all season, including a stunning win at the Hive not too long ago, the Hornets should have blown them out of the water. The Kings have not played good basketball of late and the Hornets knew that. Perhaps a little too much.

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"I know how hard it is playing 80-something games during the regular season and trying to have that passion every single night," Coach Byron Scott said. "From a psychological standpoint, our guys probably came in a little bit not prepared as far as getting after [the Kings] like we did against San Antonio."

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That explains why the Hornets scored just 17 points in the second quarter and were tied with the Kings going into the half. But, unlike in the beginning of the season where complancecy against bad teams cost the Hornets games, New Orleans has reached a point in their season where they can still pull out wins even when they don't play complete games.

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"We gotta be ready to play night in night out," guard Morris Peterson said. "With this team being so deep, we got different guys that can step up over the course of an 82-game season."

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To wit: whereas Devin Brown and Rasual Butler, who both started for New Orleans, combined for six points tonight, Posey and Peterson picked up the slack by combining for 29. For a team like the Hornets, who sit just two games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the Western Conference, winning games against bad teams is crucial, regardless of how much energy they come out wit.

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"This is a team we had lost to," Paul said. "It was sort of the same type of game in the first half. But tonight in the third quarter we came out a lot more aggressive and came out with the win."

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It's funny how, when the Hornets were 5–5 and dropping games to teams like the Kings and the Charlotte Bobcats, Scott chided his players for thinking that they can just "turn it on" and tonight that's exactly what they were able to do. But great teams don't try to psychoanalyze their wins or dwell on their losses. They just keep moving forward.

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