Posted April 11, 2012 on AP on Fox
The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Hornets are the worst teams in the Western Conference and already are eliminated from playoff contention. The Kings may find some solace in ending a five-game slide and sweeping the season series from the host Hornets for the first time in eight seasons Wednesday night. Sacramento (19-39) will miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, and is ahead of only New Orleans (15-42) in the West. Part of the reason for the separation between the teams is the Kings taking all three meetings, putting them in position to sweep the season series for the first time since winning both matchups in 2003-04. Sacramento, though, is a conference-worst 5-24 on the road and enters this contest having dropped five straight overall, the team's longest slide since a season-high six-game skid Feb. 11-21. The Kings' woes continued with Tuesday's 110-100 loss at Dallas. "We had a few little details of turning the ball over or maybe some quick shots, but that's what you get with a team that's trying to learn how to win and close out quarters," coach Keith Smart said. DeMarcus Cousins is looking to build on his 25 points, 18 rebounds and six steals from Tuesday. The second-year center wasn't nearly as effective two days prior, getting nine points and eight boards in a 104-87 loss to Houston. Cousins has missed two of three games against the Hornets, but made his presence felt Feb. 6, when he had 28 points and 19 rebounds in a 100-92 victory at New Orleans Arena. Marcus Thornton picked up the scoring slack for Cousins in the most recent matchup March 7. He scored 25 points before John Salmons' layup with 6.8 seconds left clinched a 99-98 victory. Thornton had 16 points Tuesday in his return from a thigh bruise that sidelined him four games. It's not much of a surprise that the Hornets are missing the playoffs after trading star point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the start of the season. New Orleans, though, had been showing improvement at home, winning three of four before falling 93-91 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. Coach Monty Williams felt Eric Gordon's absence due to lower back tightness was a tough blow. "We just didn't have what we have been talking about, the closer down the stretch," he said. Gordon, acquired from the Clippers in the Paul trade, has only played five games all season due to a nagging knee injury, and his 19.6 points per game is sorely missed. Having the shooting guard on the court could provide a lift for the Hornets. He's averaged 24.3 points on 56.6 percent shooting from the floor - 54.5 from beyond the arc - in his last nine meetings with the Kings. Gordon's been sidelined for all three this season.
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