After the Sacramento City Council and Mayor Kevin Johnson took care of the financial details that should help the team break ground on a new downtown arena, the Kings have plenty of upcoming business to attend to at their current home.
NEWS: Sacramento approves arena plan to keep Kings
Sacramento will try to snap a four-game losing streak on Wednesday night when it opens a franchise-record nine-game homestand against the Western Conference-worst New Orleans Hornets.The Kings and the NBA reached a tentative agreement during last week's All-Star break to finance a new arena in Sacramento, and the City Council approved the measure Tuesday night.
That facility would open in 2015-16, but in the meantime fans who've been fighting to keep the Kings (12-26) from relocating to Anaheim would certainly like to see a better product on the court.Sacramento returns home with just two victories in its last 12 games. The Kings were seconds away from salvaging a win to close their three-game road trip, but lost 119-116 in overtime to Denver on Monday.Kings guard Marcus Thornton hit a career high-tying six 3-pointers and finished with 27 points, but he fouled Arron Afflalo on a 3-point attempt with 0.6 seconds left. Afflalo hit all three free throws, and Ty Lawson's 3 with four seconds left in OT handed Sacramento another defeat."It's on me. I can't do that. I take this loss. I have to be smarter," Thornton said.Kings coach Keith Smart, whose contract was extended through 2012-13 earlier Monday, had a more positive spin to the latest loss."We are growing and moving in the right direction," he said. "It just came down to micro moments of management and we didn't come through at that time."Sacramento has come through in both contests versus New Orleans this season.Even after DeMarcus Cousins was told to stay away from the team by then-coach Paul Westphal for apparently demanding a trade, the Kings defeating the visiting Hornets 96-80 on Jan. 1.Tyreke Evans led Sacramento with 27 points in that victory, while Thornton, a former Hornet, added 25 with five steals.Thornton had just 12 points in the teams' Feb. 6 matchup, but Evans scored 11 of his 20 in the fourth quarter to help Sacramento complete its rally from 18 down and end a five-game skid in New Orleans with a 100-92 victory.That duo could cause plenty of problems for the slumping Hornets (9-29).With points guards Jarrett Jack and Greivis Vasquez each recording just six total assists in the last two games - both losses - New Orleans has averaged 79.0 points on 41.1 percent shooting."A lot of that goes on our guards," coach Monty Williams said following Monday's 86-74 loss at Portland. "They have to be able to get us into offense."Trevor Ariza returned Monday after missing two games with an illness, but the Hornets could again be without Carl Landry (sprained knee ligament), Jason Smith (concussion) and Emeka Okafor (sore left knee).Hornets center Chris Kaman, who has started the last 11 games for Okafor, is averaging 13.5 rebounds against the Kings in 2011-12.Cousins scored a season-best 28 points with 19 boards in last month's meeting.