Kings (4-8) at Hornets (5-4)
Scoring: Kings 14th (97.9), Hornets 24th (93.7).
Shooting: Kings second (47.7 percent), Hornets tied for 10th (44.7).
Scoring defense: Kings 28th (103.6), Hornets fourth (91.6).
Shooting defense: Kings 27th (47.3 percent), Hornets tied for 18th (44.8).
Three-point defense (being tracked in the House of Maloof): Kings 29th (42.7 percent), Hornets 25th (38.6).
Turnovers (ditto): Kings 23rd (16.1), Hornets fourth (13).
The link: Hornets coverage in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The almanac: On this date in 1977, the New Orleans Jazz set a record with one made free throw. The Jazz went to the line five times despite 17 fouls by the Rockets, yet still won 103-101. The Raptors topped (bottomed) that in 1996 by going the entire game without a made free throw.
Tuesday night was the kind of game that gets coaches fired, especially coaches who have been put on notice specifically to improve the three-point defense. The Kings lost by 15 at Memphis, were heartless on defense, can't pin it on being shorthanded because they've also been heartless with Kevin Martin and ... drum roll ... the Grizzlies went from No. 27 in the league behind the arc at 29.9 percent to making 10 of 16 threes.
But, Wednesday morning and Reggie Theus still has the job. It might be a money thing -- the Maloofs are still paying Eric Musselman and don't want two coaches lounging on their dime. It might be an image thing -- a third firing in a little more than 29 months is so bad and even worse for a franchise that once shined with stability from coaching to the front office to ownership.
Or we might be down to timing.
These things sometimes go by the schedule. And the schedule of the moment is that the Kings have eight games in 14 days, against much tougher competition than the first three soft weeks, with two back-to-backs (not counting Tuesday-tonight), no more than one day off between games, and four on the road, all against teams that should either challenge for the title or figure to make the playoffs: the Hornets tonight, the Lakers on Sunday, the Trail Blazers on Monday and the Jazz on Nov. 28.
Dec. 2 is the end of that eight-in-14 gauntlet run.
Dec. 3 is the start of a schedule break.
Certainly not in terms of weaker opponents. But a lot of days to practice / reorganize / heal / refill the blood-pressure meds.
- Dec. 3-4-5 -- Off.
- Dec. 6 -- vs. Nuggets.
- Dec. 7-8 -- Off.
- Dec. 9 --- vs. Lakers.
- Dec. 10-11 -- Off.
- Dec. 12 -- at Lakers.
- Dec. 13 -- vs. Knicks.
- Dec. 14 -- Off.
- Dec. 15 -- vs. Timberwolves.
- Dec. 16 -- at Trail Blazers.
- Dec. 17-18 -- Off.
- Dec. 19 -- at Rockets.
- Dec. 20 -- at Hornets.
- Dec. 21 -- Off.
- Dec. 22 -- at Spurs.
- Dec. 23-24-25 -- Off.
But five blocks of multiple days off after zero such luxuries from the start of the regular season Oct. 29 until the underlined Dec. 3.
Teams ideally make coaching changes at a time that gives the replacement the best chance at success. A moving-forward thing in the name of mood and image. Really, really ideal is a schedule without so many Lakers, Hornets and Rockets staring back, but 23 days with nine games and a lot of practice and rest is as good as it's going to get for the Kings.
That's still two weeks of patience, from tonight until Dec. 3, and if the Kings defend New Orleans the way they did Memphis, the Hornets win by 40. Two weeks isn't much in the big picture of an entire season, but it's a long time when the coach has been put on notice and the schedule is about to go Blazers-Lakers-Blazers-Nets-Jazz-Mavericks-Jazz.
The Kings aren't anxious to fire Theus, so the two weeks is also his customized buffer. Tuesday at Memphis is the bad sign that he won't be able to take advantage of it. Or that he may not even make it to Dec. 3.