Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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NEW ORLEANS ― No matter what Hornets coach Monty Williams tries, he can’t outsmart his ultimate opponent.
Once again, the Hornets failed to show up in the fourth quarter, letting a one-time 18-point lead vanish with a horrid start to the final frame.
And once again, the Hornets dropped a winnable game, this time falling to the Kings 100-92.
New Orleans had no answer for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, who had 18 second-half points on his way to 28 for the game to go with 19 rebounds, or Tyreke Evans, who finished with 20 points.
The Hornets’ defense failed in the second-half, too. After allowing just 32.5 percent in the first half, New Orleans allowed the Kings to shoot 47.4 percent for the game.
Despite five players sitting out Monday night’s game with various injuries, the Hornets led 78-69 to open the final 12 minutes of the game.
But in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, New Orleans went 2 of 13 from the floor and abandoned its offensive sets to force shots.
Sacramento, meantime, relied on timely shooting and aggressive runs.
Tied at 86 with 3:53 to play, New Orleans still had a chance, though.
New Orleans’ downfall began with Marcus Thornton’s deep 3-pointer with Marco Belinelli running at him.
That made it 89-86.
Greivis Vasquez then was called for a charge on the ensuing possession and, with the lane open on the other end, Evans contorted his body through the paint for a layup to put the Hornets in a 91-86 deficit.
Emeka Okafor hit two free throws to cut the Sacramento lead to three points, but, with time running out on the shot clock, the Kings’ Isaiah Thomas drained a 3-pointer.
A Hornets miss was followed by a Chuck Hayes layup for Sacramento and the fourth-quarter rout was officially on.
New Orleans finished the fourth quarter shooting just 26.1 percent.
Vasquez led New Orleans with 20 points and nine assists while Okafor pitched in 19 points and seven rebounds.
Chris Kaman had 10 points and 12 rebounds in his first game back after the Hornets failed to find a trading partner for the center’s services.