Sacramento (7-20) at New Orleans (15-7)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New Orleans, LA
Temp: 84° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Sat Dec 20, 2008
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Since giving up a season high in points to the Sacramento Kings last month, the New Orleans Hornets have played much better defense, which has led to overall success.

The resurgent Hornets look to reverse last month’s result against the Kings on Saturday, as they go for their sixth straight win at New Orleans Arena.

New Orleans (15-7) has won 10 of 12 since suffering a 105-96 home loss to the Kings (7-20) on Nov. 19. The Kings shot 54.7 percent from the field in that contest.

The Hornets haven’t allowed a similar offensive performance since. Their opponents are averaging 90.4 points in the last 12 games, giving New Orleans the NBA’s second-best defense during that span. Since the loss to the Kings, the Hornets have yielded fewer than 90 points five times, including in each of the last two games.

New Orleans earned its third straight win Thursday, a 90-83 home victory over San Antonio. The Hornets held the Spurs to 13 points in the fourth quarter and outrebounded them 48-39. David West scored 21 points while Chris Paul had 19 points, 12 assists and three steals, setting an NBA record by making at least one steal in 106 straight regular-season games, breaking the mark set by Alvin Robinson in 1986.

He has 12 steals in the last four games.

“I know when the coach calls on me in the fourth quarter, that’s my time to do what I do,” said Paul, who helped spark a 23-8 run for the Hornets to end Thursday’s win. “I knew I had to be aggressive. We didn’t have another quarter left. Don’t hold anything back.”

The Hornets improved to 8-3 at home since losing to the Kings, outscoring opponents by an average of 13.4 points in those games.

While New Orleans’ defense is stingy, the Kings are giving up an average of 106.1 points per game - third-most in the NBA.

Sacramento lost for the fourth time in five games Friday, falling 107-96 to the Rockets in Houston. John Salmons scored 26 points and Brad Miller added 17 points and 11 rebounds, but the Kings committed 18 turnovers leading to 24 Houston points. Three nights earlier, they allowed 24 points off turnovers in a 109-77 loss at Portland.

“We had a bad run of turnovers and that killed us,” Miller said. “Otherwise, the game would’ve been a different story.”

Friday’s loss dropped the Kings to 2-11 on the road, where they’ve dropped six straight since their win in New Orleans. They close their current four-game road trip on Monday at San Antonio.

The Kings have defeated the Hornets three straight times overall, although they’ve won only five times in their last 20 road matchups in the series.

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Saturday, Dec 20