En route to posting a franchise-record 56 victories, the Hornets rarely lost a close game last season. After a so-so start to 2007-08, they also rarely lost on their home floor. As New Orleans coach Byron Scott reminded his players on Wednesday, though, last season is over.
In a previously nip-and-tuck game, the Kings went on an 18-8 run over the final 5:07, handing the Hornets their third home loss here in just six tries. New Orleans dropped to 5-5 overall, continuing its recent inconsistency following a 3-0 start to the season.
I told our guys that theyre fooling themselves if they think teams are scared of us when we step on the court, Scott said. We havent done anything for teams to be scared of us. Weve got to compete for 48 minutes, and were not doing that. If you play (hard) for (only) 24 minutes, youre going to lose the game.
Making the loss even tougher to swallow was the fact that Sacramento (5-8) was playing the second of back-to-back games. The Kings had lost by 15 at Memphis on Tuesday.
I would have to say so, Scott said, when asked by radio analyst Gerry Vaillancourt if this was the most disappointing loss of the season. I thought (Sacramento) played harder than we did in the second half. They had much more energy. It seemed like they wanted the game more than we did.
I told the guys they have to go home and look in the mirror, and ask yourself, 'Are you playing as hard as you can play? Collectively, were not playing 110 percent or with that sense of urgency. I dont know what were waiting on, but if we wait 10 or 15 more games, in this conference, youre going to be out of it.
Former Hornets guard Bobby Jackson sparked Sacramentos game-closing run, scoring all eight of his points in the final 5:07. Jackson drilled a pair of clutch three-pointers. Both teams enjoyed tremendous shooting nights, but Sacramento hit on 54.8 percent of its attempts.
One of the (assistant) coaches said that whenever we make strides on defense, we seem to take two steps back, Scott assessed.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
On the loss: This is a bad loss for us. We definitely have taken steps back as a team. Were going to have to come together and make a push because right now teams are just walking over us. This is another game where I feel like (were) at home (and) have a few days rest. Were not supposed to lose this game. They made some tough shots. We didnt defend. They were basically running the same two plays down the stretch and we couldnt figure it out. Bobby (Jackson) hit some big shots out of that corner. We just couldnt keep pace with them.
This is the first game that we got out-gunned defensively. We just werent snappy enough. Im really disappointed with this loss. This is a bad one.
On Sacramento: They havent been playing good basketball and they have a couple of hurt players. Playing at home and coming off of a bad stretch, we were hoping for better energy on both ends of the floor. (We were hoping for) more consistency, which we didnt have.
They really executed well offensively down the stretch. They moved the ball with the pick and roll. Bobby (Jackson) got a couple of good looks.
KINGS POSTGAME QUOTES
(On his 4th quarter shots)
Thats how I play. Ive done it all my career. I dont mind taking the big shots. I like that pressure. If you give me the ball everybody knows Im going to shoot it. You either make it or miss it. I dont care if I make it or miss it.
(On coming back to New Orleans and getting a win)
It was big. No one wants to get traded. Every team you play against you want to beat that team and play well. I didnt make any shots in the 1st half, but this game is 48 minutes. I try to do the right things defensively and offensively to give us a chance to win and we did that tonight. We played extremely well considering what we did last night (109-94 loss to Memphis).