Kings-Hornets Preview


The Sacramento Kings bounced back nicely from their worst offensive performance of the season. That might not bode well for a New Orleans Hornets team trying to rebound from a shaky defensive effort.

The Kings, fresh off learning some very big news about the franchise's future, face the Hornets for the first time this season Monday at New Orleans.

After setting season lows for points and assists (nine) in an 85-69 loss at Memphis on Friday, Sacramento (16-25) handed out 24 assists in a 97-83 victory over Charlotte on Saturday. Six Kings scored at least nine points.

"Now hopefully we can come out Monday against New Orleans and do the same thing," said DeMarcus Cousins, who posted his fourth consecutive double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Kings, winners of three of four following a four-game slide, learned Sunday that the Maloof family has agreed to sell the team to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen.

The Maloofs are reportedly selling their entire 65 percent share for $525 million to Hansen, who will move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name.

The deal is still pending approval from the NBA Board of Governors and the Maloofs will be allowed to look at other bids until the league approves the sale.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said last week he had received permission from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counteroffer to league owners from buyers who would keep the Kings in Sacramento.

Johnson said in a statement late Sunday night that the city remains undeterred despite the agreement with the Seattle group.

"When it comes to keeping the team in our community, Sacramento is playing to win," Johnson said. "In particular, we have been focused like a laser on identifying an ownership group that will both have the financial resources desired by the NBA and the vision to make the Kings the NBA equivalent of what the Green Bay Packers have been in the NFL.''

The Hornets (13-27) had won six of seven before a 116-112 loss to Golden State on Saturday. New Orleans is limiting opponents to 96.8 points per game, but the Warriors shot better than 49 percent from the field, went 10 of 22 from 3-point range and made 30 of 35 free throws.

"We lost our identity tonight," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "We gave up 116 points to a team that is undermanned. We didn't knock down a free throw (going 13 of 23) and we turned the ball over 17 times. You don't deserve to win."

The Hornets might deserve a victory if they can contain Cousins, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans. Thornton had a team-high 18 points off the bench Saturday while Evans finished with 16 after scoring six of the team's final nine.

Thornton averaged a team-best 21.8 points and Evans added 19.8 as the Kings took three of four from New Orleans in 2011-12.

Eric Gordon missed all of those games due to injury and is expected to face Sacramento for the first time in a Hornets uniform.

The guard led New Orleans with 23 points Saturday after sitting out one game to rest his surgically repaired right knee, which sidelined him the first 29 contests.

Kings rookie forward Thomas Robinson should be available Monday after getting elbowed in the mouth and needing stitches in the last game.

New Orleans has taken 12 of 14 at home against the Kings.