Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

January 1, 2012
Kings-Hornets: Five things to watch

The Kings will try to snap a three-game skid against the New Orleans Hornets tonight at 6 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion. Here are a few things to keep an eye on during the game.

1. What will the offense look like? It's the biggest issue facing the Kings right now, embodied by a frustrated Tyreke Evans saying after last night's loss to the Knicks that the Kings "look lost" trying to run their new offense and are "playing off our natural talent" in order to score points. That is manifesting itself in a lot of dribble-drives and one-on-one basketball, and not much movement with or off the ball. Cohesion is key, but it has been lacking.

2. Avoiding another early deficit is important. Both the Bulls and Knicks jumped out to large early leads at Power Balance Pavilion and exposed coach Paul Westphal's concern that the Kings are not relying on each other when things get tough. Westphal said the Kings must take it upon themselves to play hard from the opening tip. The Bulls and Knicks both shot 56.5 percent in the first quarter against the Kings. Likely not every team will be that efficient.

3. The Kings need to capitalize on one of the things they are doing well right now. Any team would take 41 trips to the free-throw line in a game, which is what the Kings had against the Knicks. Players are getting into the paint and, although many of the shots aren't falling or seem out of control, they are drawing contact. The Kings lead the league with an average of 33 free-throw attempts per game.

But their awful shooting from the foul line is rendering those opportunities irrelevant. They made just 26 of 41 attempts against the Knicks and are shooting a league-worst 61.4 percent. One player who has been seemingly immune to the problem: DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is 12-of-14 from the line in the last two games. Rest of the Kings combined: 34-of-61.

4. Donte Greene could see more minutes off the bench. Greene came in and provided a spark with two consecutive three-pointers against the Knicks, and finished with 10 points in 12 minutes. Travis Outlaw was the primary option behind John Salmons through the first few games, but with Salmons getting into foul trouble last night, it was Greene on the floor in the second half. Westphal cited Greene's contributions as one of the few positives in the game.

5. Will the Kings show any energy? It's a new year, and as Chuck Hayes said late Saturday night, one win can cure a lot of what ails the Kings right now. Hayes also said that the most discouraging thing about the loss to the Knicks was lack of effort on the Kings' part. Since beating the Lakers on opening night, the league's youngest team has looked, for the most part, sluggish. They need to rediscover some of that fire.

-- Matt Kawahara

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