The Hornets recent surge to within striking distance of .500 created renewed optimism that the team can withstand the absence of Chris Paul, at least short term. One persistent problem has remained though: Dating as far back as the latter portion of the 2008-09 season, New Orleans can't seem to win on the road.
New Orleans (7-10) fell to 1-8 in away games this season after its defeat at Sacramento, in a game that was closely contested until the hosts took control in the fourth quarter.
Other developments from tonights game, the first of a two-game West Coast road trip. New Orleans visits the Lakers at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday:
Peja Stojakovic was not with the team, attending to a personal matter. With the starting small forward spot opened up, James Posey made his first start as a Hornet (in 2008-09, Posey was the only Hornet who did not start at least one game). Poseys elevation moved Julian Wright into the rotation for six minutes of playing time. New Orleans missed Stojakovics long-range shooting ability, going 5-for-19 from the three-point arc.
Emeka Okafor compiled one of his best games as a Hornet statistically, with 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
David West appears to be approaching the All-Star form on offense hes shown the previous two years. The 6-foot-9 power forward now has consecutive 20-plus-points games, something he did only once in the previous 10 outings.
This was one of those nights when the domino effect of having to move players from the bench to the starting lineup may have had a real impact on the final outcome. Sacramentos reserves were outstanding, holding a 54-23 edge in points. The Kings Sergio Rodriguez in particular had a field day, with 24 points in 24 minutes.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (courtesy Sacramento Kings)
Hornets Head Coach Jeff Bower
On the defense not getting it done:
We had stretches where we had a really hard time getting their pick and roll under control. A lot of it is due to the speed and quickness of the Kings players. (Sergio) Rodriguez was really effective and (Beno) Udrih with his shooting. It was a hard cover for us. They did a real good job keeping the pressure on us.
On turning the ball over:
There were stretches where our turnovers were the variety that was hard to understand like the ball being thrown away. We would rather they be turnovers of aggression. Tonight we had a couple of them that got away from us. We would like to have those back.
On playing a confident team:
We watched them score 61 and 59 points in the first half in their last two games. We know they have a lot of confidence playing at home. In order for us to come out of here with a win, we were going to have to keep their pick-and-roll game under control. And we werent able to do that.
Hornets Forward David West
On the Kings pick-and-roll offense:
We just couldnt contain them. We didnt figure out a way to deal with it. They were turning the corner too fluidly. To their credit, they just stuck with it.
On the Kings pushing ahead in the second quarter:
I just dont think we got into a good rhythm. We didnt play together. We didnt work the game as a unit. Guys tried to do too much individually.
On getting back in the third quarter:
We were sharing the ball. Again, we stopped doing it. I thought we worked the ball well. We really attacked them and defensively we were attacking them. We have to change our attitude as far as having more of a team approach to this thing. We cant start thinking about I, I, I. A team like Sacramento is sharing the ball and everyone is touching the ball and moving it around. Conversely, we are not doing the same. It is something we havent been doing the past few games.