Kings-Hornets Preview

New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams didn’t get too excited

last month when his team extended the franchise’s best start with a

victory over the Sacramento Kings.

The first-year coach definitely isn’t pleased with how his team

is playing now.

New Orleans looks to snap a season-worst three-game losing

streak Wednesday night when it hosts a slumping Kings team that

could be without Tyreke Evans again.

Needing a victory to tie San Antonio for the league’s best

record at 11-1, New Orleans (14-10) won 75-71 at Sacramento on Nov.

21 despite missing 14 of its first 17 shots and finishing at 32.2

percent from the field. It was the Hornets’ worst shooting effort

in a victory since they made 22 of 72 in a 76-73 win at Houston on

April 1, 2005.

“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 that game. “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.”

With Williams’ team dropping nine of 12 since that victory, the

Hornets’ record-setting start is seeming more like an anomaly.

New Orleans, which has fallen from first to seventh in the

Western Conference since last month’s victory in Sacramento,

dropped its third straight for the first time this season Monday,

losing 96-84 at Miami.

“We need to get a win so we could see how it feels,” said

All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who is averaging 5.0 assists –

half his career average – during the losing streak.

The Hornets’ schedule, though, could help the club experience

winning more often. Including Wednesday’s matchup, four of New

Orleans’ next seven games are against teams at least 10 games below

.500.

The Kings fell to 5-17 on Tuesday with their 16th loss in 18

games, 118-105 at Houston.

Playing without its scoring and assists leader in Evans, who is

questionable Wednesday with mild plantar fasciitis in his left

foot, Sacramento was outscored 31-18 in the second quarter en route

to the team’s sixth straight road loss.

“Things start snowballing a little bit, and we can’t seem to

stop the avalanche,” coach Paul Westphal said. “Whether it’s a

couple of calls we think should go our way, a couple turnovers, a

couple of made 3s, hustle plays where we deflect the ball and it

goes to the other team, it just seems like even though we were

playing well, next thing you know, we’re down 10.”

Sacramento will try to avoid its first seven-game skid on the

road since an 0-11 stretch from Jan. 1-Feb. 7, as it makes its

first trip to New Orleans Arena since a 96-94 loss on Dec. 8,

2009.

David West had 24 points and 12 rebounds, Emeka Okafor added 17

points and 12 boards and Paul scored 15 with 12 assists in that

matchup as the Hornets posted their ninth victory in 10 home

meetings with the Kings.

Paul has won the last six times he’s faced Sacramento, and is

averaging 21.8 points and 11.2 assists during that stretch.