Turnover-Prone Hornets Stumble in Sacramento

Kings Close Out Game in 4th Quarter, Send Charlotte to 1-4 on Road Trip
by Sam Perley

By Sam Perley

Despite a much better effort on the defensive end, the Charlotte Hornets couldn’t muster a much-needed road win as they fell to the Kings, 104-97, on Saturday, Jan. 12 in Sacramento. The loss snapped Charlotte’s three-game winning streak against the Kings, although these teams will quickly meet again for a rematch next Thursday night at Spectrum Center.

Kemba Walker led the way once again for Charlotte with a team-high 31 points, two rebounds and four assists in the loss. Walker now has 12 games with 30-or-more points this season, three away from matching his career high set in 2016-17 (15).

It was a back-and-forth affair for most of the night until the final 12 minutes, when the Kings slowly began taking control with 10-0 run to open up a double-digit lead with about seven minutes to go. The Hornets got the deficit back to three after their own subsequent 9-0 stretch, but never got back in front on their way to a third-consecutive loss.

The Hornets struggled with turnovers all night, coughing it up 20 times (eight in the first quarter alone) leading to 18 points for Sacramento. The total was one shy of matching the team’s season high for giveaways in a single game.

“We turned it over a little bit too much,” said Hornets Head Coach James Borrego after the game. “We were trying to execute, trying to make the right play – give them credit. They turned us over in this game. Give Sacramento credit. We could have better.”

“We just have to take care of the basketball,” added Walker. “There were a lot of just bad turnovers. We’re not usually like that, but we were tonight.”

Nicolas Batum did a little of everything with 13 points, eight rebounds, a game-high five assists, two steals and two blocks, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11 points) and Malik Monk (10 points) also scored in double figures. Backup point guard Tony Parker sat out the game (rest).

On the other side, Sacramento got 20-point games from a trifecta of players in Bogdan Bogdanović (22), Buddy Hield (21) and De’Aaron Fox (21). Willie Cauley-Stein chalked up his 17th double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.

Sacramento entered the game leading the NBA in fast-break scoring, although totaled just 4 points on 2-of-9 shooting in this category. Charlotte tied a season high with 12 blocked shots and held the Kings to 41.4 percent shooting after allowing Portland to convert 55.9 percent from the field one night earlier.

The Hornets wrap up their season-long six-game road trip on Monday, Jan. 14 when they take on the San Antonio Spurs beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.