First, let me extend my condolences to those of you who were on the Sacramento Kings last night.
For those who are unaware, the Kings led the Hornets at home 123-115 with 1:13 left in the fourth quarter but proceeded to give up a 12-3 run in the final minute, losing on a Malik Monk and-one with 1.4 seconds left. The loss is bad enough, but the way it went down was absolutely brutal.
After Harrison Barnes gave Sacramento the eight-point lead with a thunderous dunk over Miles Bridges, the Kings fell apart. On the ensuing possession LaMelo Ball was called for a flagrant foul, but De’Aaron Fox missed both free throws. On their next play, Marvin Bagley was blocked by Ball, and the Hornets went down and hit a 3-point shot to make it a five-point deficit. Sacramento would go on to miss two more free throws before Barnes fouled Rozier on a 3-point attempt. Rozier would make all three to cut it to a 123-121 lead for the Kings. After giving up a floater to Fox, the Hornets would hit another 3-pointer, this one from P.J. Washington, making it a one-point game yet again. One possession later, Buddy Hield would split a pair of free throws, making Sacramento 1-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final minute, and giving Charlotte an opportunity to take it on Monk’s final shot.
Sacramento is now 1-10 SU and ATS over its last 11 games with -8.5 net rating. The Kings remain the worst defensive team in the league, and through this slide they are giving up 122.6 points every 100 possessions. Yet, the market has an odd respect for them. Last night, they closed as a 3.5-point favorite over Charlotte, and three games ago opened as a favorite on the road in New York. The game prior to that, the line moved in their direction, closing 5.5 against Brooklyn in a game they lost 127-118 on the road. The offensive talent is there for the Kings, but until the market realizes how bad this defense is Sacramento remains a play-against team.
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on second leg of back-to-back
The Main Event
Utah Jazz (-7.5, 234.5) at New Orleans Pelicans
This seems to be quite the mismatch on paper. New Orleans is 29th in defensive efficiency this season, allowing 118.1 points every 100 possessions. Most of their issues stem from a perimeter defense that is one of the worst we’ve ever seen. When opponents face the Pelicans they take 42.7 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc, the second-highest mark in the league, and they are hitting at an insane rate. New Orleans gives up an identical 39.9 percent to shooters from anywhere beyond the arc, and to non-corner 3-point shooters. According to NBA.com, the Pelicans are allowing the second-most wide-open attempts (Closest defender six feet away) from deep on the season, and tonight they take on a team that generates open looks better than anyone.