Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 99, Kings 90

Saturday, December 20, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Saturday’s game vs. Sacramento had all of the makings of a potential “trap” game for New Orleans, given that it was sandwiched between the Hornets’ biggest win of the season vs. the Spurs, and their rematch against the Lakers on Tuesday.

The Hornets played a so-so first half against the Kings, but responded in the third quarter to take over and eventually win somewhat convincingly. They led by as many as 14 points in the second half. Chris Paul paced New Orleans (16-7) by tallying season highs in points (34) and steals (8). He was one shy of his career-best in thefts, increasing his consecutive-games streak to a record 107.

“Chris took it upon himself to be a little bit more aggressive at both ends,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “Playing a finesse team like Sacramento, I think we needed to have that mindset, but we didn’t come out with that. We had to change things up a little bit at halftime. We did a pretty good job of adjusting.

“I know how hard it is to play 82 games during the regular season and trying to have that passion every single night. Guys are human: They look at the records and see that Sacramento is not playing very well. But they seem to always be in the game. From a psychological standpoint, maybe our guys didn’t do a great job of being prepared to get after them like we did against San Antonio.”

A player-by-player update on the Hornets’ roster:

STARTERS
Chris Paul: Amid everything he is doing well, you may not have noticed that he was shooting nearly 90 percent from the line entering Saturday. His percentage actually went down vs. the Kings, when he was 12-for-15 at the stripe. But statistically, this was his best game in 2008-09. He wound up one assist and two steals shy of a triple-double vs. the Kings.
Rasual Butler: After his tremendous impact in the Spurs game, he had a rough one against the Kings, going 1-for-7 from the field (0-for-4 on treys). He’s at 43 percent on three-pointers this season.
Tyson Chandler: His offensive production has experienced an uptick lately, averaging 10.0 points over his last four appearances, with the two-game absence due to injury in between.
Peja Stojakovic: Missed his second straight game with back spasms. He is listed as day-to-day. Status is uncertain for Tuesday vs. Lakers.
David West: He’s been rolling lately offensively, but his 12-point game vs. Kings was lowest output since Nov. 28 at Portland and also first time he didn’t attempt a free throw since the same game.
RESERVES
Devin Brown: Received another start due to Stojakovic’s absence. Brown has not shot well all season; he was 0-for-6 vs. the Kings and is 2-for-15 on treys over the last five games.
James Posey: Continues to back up Scott’s preseason assertion that Posey is a better offensive player than many believe. Posey had 20 points in Toronto, 15 in Memphis and 19 vs. Sacramento, all this week.
Hilton Armstrong: Rebounding better lately but was 1-for-5 from floor Saturday.
Antonio Daniels: Averaging 12 minutes over four games since making his Hornets debut.
Morris Peterson: Praised by Scott after 10-point outing in 19 minutes vs. Kings, saying Peterson was “very professional” during recent stretch when his minutes decreased significantly.
Sean Marks: Has almost played as many minutes since Nov. 27 Hornets debut (110) as he did all of last season with Phoenix (130).
Melvin Ely: Did not play for third straight game; last appearance was Sunday at Toronto.
Ryan Bowen: Was activated Saturday but did not play.
Julian Wright: Was moved to inactive list Saturday with Bowen activated, a change from earlier in the season when the roles were reversed.