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Marco Belinelli fulfilling expectations – as a Hornet

Charlotte Hornets' Marco Belinelli has his portrait taken by NBAE photographer Kent Smith during Hornets Media Day at the Spectrum Center on Monday, September 26, 2016.
Charlotte Hornets' Marco Belinelli has his portrait taken by NBAE photographer Kent Smith during Hornets Media Day at the Spectrum Center on Monday, September 26, 2016. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

A change of scenery has been good for Marco Belinelli.

Belinelli was one of the Kings’ touted free-agent pickups in July 2015. He flopped with the Kings, shooting a career-worst 38.6 percent from the field, including a career-low 30.6 percent on 3-point attempts.

The Kings traded Belinelli to the Charlotte Hornets for No. 22 pick Malachi Richardson in a draft-day deal last June.

While Richardson only recently has joined the Kings’ rotation, Belinelli has been the player the Kings hoped he’d be – for the Hornets.

“He’s been a great pickup for us if you look at his offensive efficiency,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said before the Kings’ 109-106 victory at the Spectrum Center on Saturday. “I knew he was a very good catch-and-shoot player, playing off pin-downs and everything. He’s a much better pick-and-roll player than I realized.”

After averaging 10.2 points as a King, Belinelli is averaging 10.9 points this season. He is shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from 3-point range.

Belinelli also is adding intangibles that the Kings sought last season in their attempt to repair a culture defined by 10 straight losing seasons.

“He’s very good in the locker room,” Clifford said. “The experiences he’s had, in Chicago, in San Antonio, playing on really good teams deep into the playoffs. He’s very team-oriented. He’s been a great pickup for us.”

It was easy to scoff at the Hornets for giving up a first-round pick to land Belinelli, especially considering how poorly he played for the Kings. But Clifford had no reservations about adding Belinelli.

“We had tried to get him for a couple years,” Clifford said. “And I’m also close with guys that have coached him. Hopefully, he’ll continue to play this efficiently, but I was pretty comfortable he would fit in well.”

Technical language – DeMarcus Cousins was called for a technical foul along with Charlotte center Spencer Hawes with 3:00 left in the second quarter. The two had exchanged words after Cousins was fouled on a basket.

It was Cousins’ 13th technical foul of the season, leaving him three short of an automatic one-game suspension, unless the technical is rescinded by the NBA.

Cousins has had three technicals rescinded this season. Otherwise, Saturday’s would have cost him Monday’s game at Philadelphia.

Picking it up – Guard Darren Collison is averaging 19.5 points on 61.7 percent shooting (29 of 47) in his last four games.

Kings coach Dave Joerger said the reason for Collison’s confidence lately is simple.

“He’s making shots. That’s the biggest thing for him,” Joerger said. “Everybody always feels good when the ball goes in.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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