Hornets snap 11-game skid, beat sluggish Kings

Jan 2, 2024, 9:34 PM | Updated: 10:05 pm

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 02: Terry Rozier #3 of the Charlotte Hornets is guarded by Davion ...

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Some games have a low rewatch value. Tuesday night’s game between the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Hornets will not be on any ‘NBA Top Games of the Season” lists.

Charlotte entered play on the second night of a back-to-back after playing in Denver on Monday, having lost 11 straight games and facing the Kings without LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Brandon Miller, and Mark Williams.

None of it mattered.

Sacramento (19-13) suffered its worst loss of the season on Tuesday night as the Hornets took advantage of a season-high 21 Kings turnovers during a 111-104 win at Golden 1 Center.

While it seemed as if Sacramento was set to build off Sunday’s 30-point win in Memphis, a rested and healthy Kings team was bullied by a Charlotte squad that hadn’t won a game since December 11th.

Kings vs. Hornets Takeaways

Those who feared this matchup would be a “trap” game had their feelings validated during the first half.

Sacramento opened up the game by taking an early 10-point lead, but a red-hot offense was quickly brought to a screeching half as Charlotte ended the period on a 17-3 run.

De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk went scoreless during the first quarter, while the Kings went eight-of-26 (30%) from the field, including an abysmal three-of-nine at the rim.

The second quarter wasn’t much better for Sacramento, especially when it came to taking care of the basketball, as the Kings turned the ball over six times in the period. Domantas Sabonis finished the half with five of Sacramento’s ten turnovers, just one shy of tying his season-high over 18 minutes of action.

Fox started showing signs of life in the second, scoring nine points on two-of-four shooting from downtown, but the Kings had plenty of work to do as they held a slim 50-45 lead at the break.

It seemed as if Sacramento was closing in on making a run repeatedly, but the Kings couldn’t generate consistent offense as they failed to take care of the basketball.

The Kings finished the night with 21 turnovers, tying a season-high with Sabonis setting a new career-high (11 turnovers) in the process).

Nobody outside of Fox, who scored 12 of his 30 points during the fourth quarter, could get their offense going as Hornets guard Terry Rozier willed the Hornets to a late-game comeback in the fourth.

Rozier scored 14 of his 34 points during the final period as Charlotte went 12-of-16 (75%) from the field during the fourth as Sacramento failed to play any sort of competitive defense.

Between turnovers, a lack of defense, and too many turnovers, even another valiant closing effort from Fox wouldn’t be enough for the Kings to squeak out a win. Instead of closing the game with energy, Sacramento laid down as the Hornets ended the night on a 10-0 run in front of a stunned sold-out crowd at Golden 1 Center.

“We just gave the ball away. We were too careless with the ball tonight,” Fox said of the Kings’ struggles on offense. “We were careless as a whole.”

“Our execution down the stretch and our sense of urgency, on both sides of the ball, was alarming. It wasn’t good,” Mike Brown said postgame. “And then our halfcourt defense, to not have an awareness, a sense of urgency, it was not a good feeling being out there and being a part of it. And obviously, I have something to do with it too because I didn’t have our guys ready, apparently.”

Aside from the turnovers, Sacramento couldn’t convert shots around the rim during the loss.

The Kings finished the night 21/39 (53%) in the restricted zone, while the Hornets–a team that entered play ranked 25th in two-point field goal percentage (52%)–went 24-for-37 (64%) in the paint against Sacramento’s weak interior defense.

On the heels of an ugly loss in Portland and a win over Atlanta that saw the Kings have to rally from a 24-point deficit, it appeared the ship had been righted in Memphis.

Now, Sacramento is back at square one as they seek consistency.

Brown stuck with Chris Duarte over Kevin Huerter in the starting lineup in a way to provide the first five with more intensity and physicality on the defensive end.

Following Tuesday’s loss, one has to wonder if more significant changes are needed to put Sacramento in a position to contend in the Western Conference. If one thing is becoming clearer with each rough showing, it’s that the Kings might need some shaking up as we near February 8th’s trade deadline.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Same time, same place tomorrow?

Sacramento will play the second game of a back-to-back on Wednesday night against an Orlando Magic team that has been one of the NBA’s biggest surprises this season.

Orlando will also be playing its second game in as many nights after facing the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on Tuesday. The Kings are 0-4 on the second night of a back-to-back this season.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Magic coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from Golden 1 Center.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Wednesday, January 3rd – Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic – 7:00 PM PST
  • Friday, January 5th – Sacramento Kings vs. Toronto Raptors – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, January 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 3:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, January 9th – Sacramento Kings @ Detroit Pistons – 4:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, January 10th – Sacramento Kings @ Charlotte Hornets – 4:00 PM PST

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