Well, that escalated quickly. Coming off the emotional high of last night’s thrilling win over the Lakers, the Kings came out of the gate firing in Portland. But things changed quickly in the second half. No sense of a gameplan on offense or defense combined with strong play by the Blazers had the Kings run out of the gym. Portland coasted to a 101-79 win, as the Kings looked completely lost.
THREE GUARDS, NO POINT - We know Tyreke, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer are electric players with tons of offensive skill. Many nights that will be enough. But tonight, the Kings lack of a true point guard was killer. When things go south, a leader needs to orchestrate the offense, and nobody fulfilled that role tonight. The Kings lacked direction, and when you factor in the Blazers stifling defense, it was a recipe for disaster.
INEFFECTIVE STARTING LINEUP - It was an ugly game for the Kings starters. Even in the first half when Sac raced to an early lead, it was primarily reserves who sparked the team. Tyreke (2-8 FG, 4 PTS, 3 AST, 5 TO) was tentative and found no area to attack the basket. Thornton (5-15 FG, 14 PTS) couldn’t find his shot throughout. Salmons (19 MIN, 5 PF) got into foul trouble and was invisible. Chuck Hayes (26 MIN, 4 PTS, 11 REB, 5 PF) had a quiet game. DeMarcus Cousins (7-18 FG, 16 PTS, 11 REB, 5 TO) forced way too many shots.
BIGS OFF THE BENCH - Maybe the only bright spot on the night was the Kings two reserve big men, JJ Hickson and Jason Thompson. Both guys were instant energy off the bench. Hickson (10 PTS, 5 REB) is quickly proving to be a menace in the paint. His athleticism is a tough handle for any opponent and he loves to crash the boards. Thompson got on track early and probably should have played more than 14 minutes. He hit 5-of-6 shots on a night when nobody could find the net.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS - Make a free throw, seriously. The Kings hit 13 of their last 16 but that was after starting 1-of-6. 14-for-22, 63.6 percent. That’s not gonna work … Gerald Wallace was an absolute beast for Portland. Flying around the court on both ends. Another feather in Petrie’s draft cap … Jimmer (4-10 FG, 1-5 3FG, 10 PTS)could stand to be more aggressive, especially when the team can’t score. Let’s see the BYU Jimmer: he doesn’t have to force tough shots but pull up and drop some … Curious defensive plays: using Jimmer repeatedly against Batum without success and getting beat down the court by 39-year-old Kurt Thomas.