March 7, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Marco Belinelli (8) warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Power Balance Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
In a normal year, there won't be many more painful ways to lose a game. Instead, Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli failing to play a simple game of pitch-and-catch relieves as much as it infuriates, with the Hornets maintaining their spot in the NBA's bottom three.
From a pure roster perspective, New Orleans played a mighty impressive game. Sure, it was the Kings, but the Hornets played without Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith, Gustavo Ayon, Carl Landry, or Eric Gordon and managed to put together an effective offensive performance. At 98 points on 91 possessions, their points/poss. of 108 easily dwarfed their (awful) season average of 98. With Marco Belinelli largely misfiring yet again and Solomon Jones contributing literally zero on the offensive end, Jarrett Jack (25/4), Chris Kaman (18/11/8) and Trevor Ariza (20/4/6) spearheaded the attack. The offense gradually wore down, especially towards the very end, but it was certainly adequate for a victory.
Ultimately it came down to those comical last two plays. Should Ariza have tossed the ball further into the backcourt? Should he have called the final timeout? Was it a good enough pass for Belinelli to catch regardless? And what in the world was that final Ariza isolation call? Tough questions.
The main positive I'm taking away from tonight is the play of Chris Kaman. We're now exactly a week from the trade deadline, and since his return, Kaman has done nothing but put up noteworthy box score lines. On more than one occasion, the numbers have been overshadowed by inefficiency, but certainly not tonight - 50% shooting, 18 points and 8 assists primarily from good passes out of double teams. Kaman led the team in minutes too, at one point remaining on the floor for 22 consecutive in the first half. It's a bit unnerving that not a single Kaman trade rumor has leaked in weeks, but I'm anticipating activity closer to the deadline. Games like this one could certainly be influential in determining eventual return.
I'd be remiss to end this without mentioning the Hornets' 22% turnover rate. All the effort in the world will always be overshadowed by tossing the ball to the other team every fourth or fifth time down the floor. And so it went tonight.