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  • Gerald Herbert Associated Press New Orleans forward Anthony Davis dunks over Kings center DeMarcus Cousins in the first half Sunday. Davis led all scorers with 20 points.

  • Gerald Herbert Associated Press New Orleans guard Eric Gordon shoots over the Kings' John Salmons in the second half. At left is Hornets center Robin Lopez.

Kings falter on defense again, lose fifth straight

Published: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 17, 2013 - 4:46 pm

NEW ORLEANS – More than once, the New Orleans Hornets would score on a layup or dunk, and Kings players would look at each other trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

That happened too many times Sunday at New Orleans Arena, where the Hornets beat the Kings 110-95. It was Sacramento's fifth consecutive defeat.

And as has been the case during the losing streak, the Kings did not defend well. They have given up 114.2 points per game during the skid, which matches their longest of the season.

It's the third time this season the Kings have lost five in a row. They also have dropped four in a row three times.

Sacramento (19-38) is one game ahead of Phoenix for the worst record in the Western Conference. The Kings also have lost their last eight games on the road.

The Hornets exploited the Kings' poor defense with a season-high 62 points in the paint.

"It's horrible," said guard Isaiah Thomas. "It's not the way basketball is played. We're not playing defense the way we should. We're not in the right coverages, and it's a mental thing. It's a want-to-do thing. It's not that difficult. We have the guys to do it, and we have the ability to do it. We just don't do it."

The communication issues arose when players such as Anthony Davis (game-high 20 points) ended up with easy looks at the rim.

The Hornets shot 50.6 percent, the third time in five games the Kings have allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better.

"We don't communicate, and that's half the battle on the defensive end," Thomas said. "You see all the good teams, playoff teams, they're always yelling, talking, and we don't do that."

The Kings broke down in the fourth quarter after pulling within five at 88-83 with 8:04 left to play. That's when the Hornets used a 12-2 run capped by a Ryan Anderson (Oak Ridge High School) three-pointer to make the score 100-85 with 4:07 to play.

That stretch wasted a career-high six three-pointers (on seven attempts) from John Salmons. He was scoreless in the first half but finished with 18 points.

Five of the three-pointers came in the third quarter, which tied the team record for threes in a quarter. Thomas, Jason Williams and Mitch Richmond also accomplished the feat.

"It don't really mean nothing if you're not winning games," Salmons said. "I wish it would have correlated to a win. Usually when I'm involved and playing well, we win. (Sunday) just wasn't one of those days."

The Kings didn't help themselves with some of their decisions on offense, either. They shot 42.2 percent but made 12 of 19 three pointers. Kings coach Keith Smart lamented the many missed shots around the rim and the shot selection.

The Hornets (20-37) blocked nine shots, one short of their season high. Smart didn't like how the Kings continually challenged Al-Farouq Aminu (three blocks) or Robin Lopez (two blocks).

"They are known shot blockers, and they are coming to penetration, and we still tried to challenge them," Smart said. "You're either going to be dunking the basketball or thinking drop-off passes for easy-opportunity shots."

Added Thomas: "When stuff hits the fan, we go back to our regular ways. "That's playing selfish, one-on-one and trying to be the hero every time down."

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