New Orleans coach Monty Williams was quick with a one-liner after the Hornets survived an ugly game to match San Antonio for the best record in the NBA.
”I don’t think either one of us is going to send this tape to Springfield (the Basketball Hall of Fame) or any other field,” Williams said after the Hornets improved to 11-1 with a 75-71 victory over Sacramento on Sunday. ”At this point in the season I don’t even look at the standings. I had no idea we would have this kind of record. Looking at our record, it might be fools’ gold.”
David West had 17 points, and Trevor Ariza added 16 to help the Hornets win their third straight game.
Donte Greene had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Sacramento. The Kings have dropped nine of 10 games since opening the season 3-1.
The Hornets completed a trade Saturday that sent Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to Toronto for point guard Jarrett Jack, center David Andersen and guard Marcus Banks. The three new players are expected to join the Hornets on Monday night in Los Angeles for a game against the Clippers.
”I’m excited. J-Jack is like a brother to me. I talk to him on a regular basis,” point guard Chris Paul said. ”He brings experience and knows how to play the game. Coming up the bench he will be huge for us.”
Marco Belinelli scored 12 points, and Paul had 14 assists for the Hornets, who shot 32 percent and had a season-low point total. Paul shot 2 of 12 and scored nine points.
Luther Head had 11 points for the Kings, and Tyreke Evans was limited to nine.
”Trevor’s defense on Tyreke was great,” Williams said. ”He made him take tough shots. We really defended the Kings well when we needed to. When you give up just 15 points in the fourth quarter that really says a lot.”
Kings rookie center DeMarcus Cousins had a three-point play to cut the Hornets’ lead to two points with 32 seconds left, but Belinelli made two free throws with 6.4 seconds left to extend New Orleans’ lead to 75-71.
”We couldn’t get shots when we needed to get them,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. ”It’s a shame when you play as hard as effectively as we played tonight to not have a win to show for it.”
After New Orleans failed to score for 3 1/2 minutes, Ariza connected on a 3-pointer to put the Hornets in front 69-68 with 3:23 left. After another scoring drought, West made consecutive jumpers to give New Orleans a 73-68 advantage with 1:24 remaining.
After the Hornets went ahead 66-64, the Kings answered when Cousins dunked off a fast break and Evans scored on a drive for a 68-66 lead with 4:37 remaining.
”We did play good defense today against the best team in the NBA,” Cousins said. ”Tonight we showed improvement, but we let one slip away.”
Despite shooting 30 percent and having a season-low point total for a half, the Hornets went into intermission tied at 39, thanks to Ariza’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Ariza had nine first-half points.
NOTES: New Orleans opened the game by missing 14 of 17 shots and finished 6 of 24 in the first quarter. … Jack and Hornets coach Monty Williams were together in Portland for three seasons when Williams was an assistant.