Paul and the Hornets look to break out of their slumps, and New Orleans will try to win its seventh straight at home over the Sacramento Kings as the teams meet for the first time this season on Wednesday night.
New Orleans (5-4) is trying to get its offense back on track. The Hornets averaged 106.7 points and shot 48.3 percent from the floor in their first three games - all wins - but since then, they’ve averaged just 87.2 points while shooting 42.8 percent.
They are coming off one of their worst offensive games in a 91-82 loss to Houston on Saturday. It was New Orleans’ second-lowest scoring game and its 40.8 percent shooting was a season-low.
“We expect so much of ourselves,” said Paul, who had a season-worst 12 points to go along with 12 assists. “We have to reach down inside and bring more energy every night. Every time we step on the court, we have to fight and play hungry and not just go through the motions.”
Paul twisted his ankle late in the first half, but still played nearly 35 minutes. He finished 2-of-10 from the field after scoring 17 on 4-of-12 shooting the night before in a win against Portland.
Paul is averaging 20.8 points on 50.0 percent shooting in 2008-09, and hadn’t scored fewer than 20 in any of his first seven games.
The rest of the Hornets weren’t much better against the Rockets. They missed eight of their first 12 shots in the fourth quarter, and trailed by 17 with five minutes left. David West led New Orleans with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hornets dropped two of three to the Kings (4-7) last season, but won the only game played in Louisiana. New Orleans has won six straight home games by an average of 13.2 points against Sacramento since a 94-81 loss on Dec. 1, 2004.
The Kings, meanwhile, are trying to avoid losing their fourth straight after falling 109-94 to Memphis on Tuesday. John Salmons scored 18 points and Spencer Hawes added 14, hitting all seven of his shots. But the Kings never led, and trailed by as many as 23.
“Some nights you’re not going to shoot well,” said the Kings’ Bobby Jackson, who had 13 points. “But when you get beat by 13 on the boards and give up so many open (3-pointers), you’re not giving yourself a chance to win.”
The Grizzlies shot 54.2 percent as the Kings’ defense continues to struggle. Sacramento is allowing opponents to average 103.6 points and shoot 47.3 percent, both among the highest in the league.
Coach Reggie Theus doesn’t believe his team’s defense is quite that bad.
“Defensively, we’ve been playing well these last seven or eight games,” he said. “We’ve only let one team break 100. Tonight, we just caved in for a couple of reasons: Being on the road, and our shots were not falling. We let that affect us on both ends of the floor.”
The Kings are 1-5 on the road with the only win coming against the 1-9 Los Angeles Clippers.