The Kings got off to a very hot start, moving the ball well and pushing it in transition. Sacramento had 10 assists in the 1st quarter alone, a season high, and got out to an early 29-20 lead. The only thing keeping New Orleans in the game was the play of Jason Smith and perplexing misses by the Kings right at the basket.
Sacramento's defense was again atrocious. The Hornets are among the worst offensive teams in the NBA: 28th in Offensive Rating, 29th in Points Per Game, and 14th in Field Goal Percentage. Yet tonight the Hornets scored 105 points (16 above their average) on 55.9% from the field. Guys like Jason Smith, Marco Belinelli and Xavier Henry carved up the Kings defense like the Maloofs trimming payroll. It was not a pretty sight. There needs to be a renewed focus on defensive effort and intensity next season.
The Kings were able to recover the lead early in the 3rd quarter thanks to the continued hot play of Marcus Thornton, but New Orleans answered right back with yet another big run, this time with Greveis Vasquez leading the way. Vasquez hit several big shots, found his teammates for easy buckets, and just like that the Hornets were up by 9 going into the 4th with the Kings looking generally lifeless.
They were shocked back into life in the final quarter by the strong play of one Terrence Williams. Williams scored 9 of his 14 points in the first five minutes of the quarter before passing the baton along to Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans. Thompson and Evans scored inside and out to bring the Kings back into the game, cutting the lead to just 4 points with 4:05 remaining. Evans played like a star much of the night, and his jumper looked as good as it ever has, but he began to slow down beyond that point, reverting back to the Tyreke "Hero-Ball" of old. It cost the Kings down the stretch as the Hornets were able to withstand Sacramento's run.
It wasn't over yet though, and Marcus Thornton's jumper with 1:53 left made it 99-94. Belinelli missed a three and Thornton tried to cut the lead even further with his own three, but he missed as well. The Kings were basically forced to foul from then on and weren't able to hit any of their desperation three attempts that might have kept them in it.