Some games require very little analysis. On one hand, you had the Sacramento Kings, unable to make the simplest of shots within 10 feet. On the other were the Portland Trailblazers, making every shot they looked at. As is often the case with the Kings this season, a solid effort in the first and fourth quarters wrapped around a brutal performance in the middle two frames. A late run made the game appear closer than it actually was, as Portland ran away with a 109-91 victory.
MAKE YOUR SHOTS – The Kings just could not make any open shots. From open threes to point blank lay-ups, it was an embarrassing performance for Sacramento. With Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins missing in action, the Kings looked to Marcus Thornton to pick up the slack. Bad idea. Thornton (22 MIN, 6 PTS, 2-9 FG, 3 REB, 2 AST) showed an extreme lack of confidence, clearly frustrated by his inability to convert baskets. Isaiah Thomas (28 MIN, 12 PTS, 4-11 FG, 6 AST, 2 TO) and Jimmer Fredette (20 MIN, 7 PTS, 2-8 FG, 2 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL), who are counted on to pick up the slack for a struggling first unit, both failed to find a rhythm. The Kings finished at 40.7 percent. Meanwhile, the five Blazers who played the most minutes all shot 50 percent or better. Portland never experienced any shooting slump that would allow the Kings back in the game.
FORMER KING DOES DAMAGE – J.J. Hickson’s time in Sacramento was marred by awful shooting which resulted in a decreased role and his eventual release. You could never fault Hickson’s effort for the Kings, and it’s becoming clear that the Sacramento situation was just not a good fit for the big man. In Portland, starting next to a legitimate interior threat in LaMarcus Aldridge, Hickson is thriving, and he continued his breakout season against the Kings on Wednesday. J.J. (17 PTS, 14 REB) owned the paint on both ends, attacking the glass, swatting away shots and finishing with authority around the rim. It makes it hurt even more that the Kings were unable to find even a second round pick for a guy that is playing so well elsewhere.
TEAM WITHOUT BOOGIE – For at least one quarter, the Kings appeared competent while playing without Cousins and Evans. The first quarter featured a sharing of the basketball that has rarely been seen this season. There is something to be said for that. For all the talent that Cousins and Evans bring — and a lack of talent certainly caught up to the Kings against Portland — games like this one show just how poor the cohesion is on this team. Without Evans and Cousins, Sacramento may not have the talent to compete every night, but they certainly play a better style of basketball. It’s unknown when either will return, but Keith Smart’s biggest challenge will be to retain ball movement with them in the game.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – So much for Travis Outlaw’s magic against his former mates. Outlaw had four fouls, two turnovers and missed three-of-five shots in 11 minutes … Francisco Garcia (19 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-7 FG, 3 AST) was a second half insert who really played well. Always looks a little sketchy for the coach when a reserve comes in with the game basically in hand and lights it up … Thomas Robinson (21 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-7 FG, 0-2 FT, 3 REB) continues to look less than impressive. His offensive game is a mess, whether around the basket or trying to spot up. He’s also been somewhat underwhelming as a rebounder, and that was an area he seemed ready to contribute in as a rookie.