The Hornets came out with decent energy to start, but they had to withstand an early flurry of Kings 3-pointers while their own shots wouldn’t fall. The Hornets once again found themselves in a big first quarter hole. Like, real big. The Kings made eight 3-pointers in just over eight minutes and then got one more as the clock wound down. The Hornets ended the first quarter in a 41-27 hole.
A lazy closeout from Kelly Oubre let Mo Harkless cash in on his third triple of the game, and Fox got an uncontested layup after a Hornets miss on their ensuing possession. Some very lax Hornets defense let the Kings build their lead as large as 27 in the early parts of the second quarter. The Hornets made a little run to cut the deficit to 17 at points, but they couldn’t hold the line heading into the half, and trailed by 21 at the break.
LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward had strong third quarters for the Hornets, but so did Richaun Holmes for the Kings. The Kings pulled ahead by as many as 25 before Hayward and Ball’s play spurred a 15-4 run to pull the Hornets within 14, which seemed like an accomplishment at the time. They didn’t get any closer than that and trailed by 18 heading into the fourth.
The Hornets looked like they might make a push in the early stages of the fourth quarter. They pulled within 12 at one point, but the Kings cashed in two open 3-pointers in a span of 14 seconds to bring the game full circle and start another avalanche of threes. Along with those two buckets, the Kings made five 3-pointers in a span of two minutes and 49 seconds (all coming from Buddy Hield and Davion Mitchell) to blow the game open and send the game into garbage time.
The Hornets had no answers for the Kings offense anywhere on the floor. The Kings got into the paint with ease and either finished there or kicked out for open threes. On the rare occasion the Kings did miss, Richaun Holmes and Tristan Thompson were liable to gobble up the offensive board.
The offense played to a passable level tonight, mostly buoyed by Hayward and Ball. Cody Martin with 12 points and Miles Bridges with 10 were the only other Hornets in double figures.
The Hornets have a day off on Saturday to try to figure out how to defend again. They’ll try to get right against an equally up and down Clippers team on Sunday evening.