Kings vs. Blazers. Kings bring poor effort. Three starters relied upon to hit shots fail to make open looks. Team defends the three-point line poorly. Blazers dominate the glass, creating numerous second-chance opportunities. Deficit hits double digits. Down big, Kings finally decide to play. DeMarcus Cousins carries the team. Deficit trimmed to single digits, but late rally falls short due to clutch Blazers shooting. Friday in Portland. Saturday in Sacramento. Same game, different night. Blazers drop Kings, 96-85.
SEARCHING FOR THE PANIC BUTTON – Most realistic Kings fans knew the playoffs were a pipe dream. But what was expected was a consistent effort and a team making steady strides toward respectability. That ain’t happening, and because it’s not, it’s time for some heads to roll. After Saturday’s debacle, Coach Michael Malone has already suggested that changes are on the way, most likely the benching of at least one current starter. Good on you, Coach. This can’t continue.
THORNTON AND SALMONS AND PATTERSON…OH NO – Just a dreadful collective effort from the three-headed monster of inefficiency otherwise known as Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and Patrick Patterson. Thornton (20 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-9 FG, 2 REB, 1 STL) is not just missing long range shots; his confidence is absolutely shot to the point where 12-footers are an insurmountable chore. Salmons (24 MIN, 0 PTS, 0-2 FG, 3 REB) comes off as the most depressing player on the court, showing no signs of life or emotion. He plays the most worthless minutes, floating aimlessly on offense in between ill-conceived dribble drives. Patterson (28 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-7 FG, 2 REB) has yet to show the shooting touch that made him valuable last season. That’s a combined 5-of-18 from the floor for 10 points and seven rebounds from three-fifths of your starting lineup. At least one, and maybe all three, of these guys should hit the pine, as none are getting the job done.
GRAB A DAMN REBOUND – Sometimes a low rebounding total can be attributed to hot shooting or just unlucky bounces of the ball. But when you’re outrebounded 52-33 and give up 19 offensive boards to the Blazers, it’s a matter of weak effort and bad positioning. The Kings were outworked on the boards, and to be honest, they just don’t have a wealth of quality rebounders on the roster. Nobody outside of Cousins grabbed more than three rebounds…that’s unacceptable. Patterson grabbed two in 28 minutes, and Jason Thompson, Luc Mbah a Moute and Travis Outlaw combined for five in 36 minutes. When help is needed, all five guys have to hit the glass. The Blazers made the Kings pay for these letdowns, just as they did Friday in Portland.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Another terrific performance from DeMarcus Cousins went to waste. On the floor, Cousins (31 MIN, 33 PTS, 13-24 FG, 7-11 FT, 12 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TO) took it upon himself to carry the load, attacking the basket down the stretch and fighting for every inch. Off the court, when saddled with early foul trouble, Cousins was vocal on the bench, cheering on his teammates and even taking Jimmer Fredette aside to give him some words of encouragement. A very pleasant sign from the Kings center … Speaking of Fredette, Jimmer (19 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-6 FG, 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO) received quality rotation minutes. He was ineffective in the first half but found a little more success during the Kings rally. Surprisingly, he attempted zero shots from downtown but his two steals helped ignite the crowd. Keep playing the kid … Greivis Vasquez (32 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-5 FG, 3 REB, 5 AST, 0 TO) is being rendered useless by his cold-shooting teammates. Vasquez continues to run the team but as a pass-first point guard, his success is measured by how his teammates produce. He shouldn’t be lumped into the negative column … Interestingly short night for Isaiah Thomas (17 MIN, 12 PTS, 6-10 FG, 1 AST, 1 TO). He’s the clear second-best player on the team at this point and was instant offense in the first half. But he found himself on the sideline, as Coach Malone rode the players who got the team back in it. Just a one night dip for Thomas; he should be on the floor whenever the team has a chance to win … Ben McLemore (28 MIN, 13 PTS, 4-8 FG, 3-3 3FG, 3 REB, 1 STL, 2 TO) hit all three of the Kings triples, and it’s clear you’ll never be able to question the rookie’s effort. He was up and down the court, sprinting around screens and launching himself into plays on both ends. Wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him starting Wednesday.