Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
The funny thing is, this was the first game where I was actually excited for the second half. The Sacramento Kings were flying high in the first half, the bench helping them play maybe their best basketball of the season. The ball was moving, Jimmer was cold-blooded and the excitement was growing. Then…SPLAT! The Kings fell off the map in the blink of an eye once the second half started. Portland let it rain triples, and the Kings offense became embarrassing yet again. The Blazers 103-86 win sends Kings fans back to frustration and agony.
THIRD QUARTER MELTDOWN — It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment things went south for the Kings. But with Tyreke Evans (30 MIN, 10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 4 AST) running point in the second half, it looked like the Kings might have a nice mismatch to ride, allowing Evans to get to the basket against the much smaller Damian Lillard. But rather than exploit it, Sacramento started settling for jump shots. A lineup with Evans, James Johnson and an ice cold Marcus Thornton (6-14 FG) isn’t going to outshoot anybody. The Kings went scoreless from the 5:22 mark in the third quarter to the 1:39 mark, and in that span they attempted just one shot inside 12 feet. The Blazers increased their lead from one point to 13 points in that span. Ball game.
KINGS LOSE AND GET PUNKED — If losing wasn’t bad enough, the Kings watched as Luke Babbitt attempted to decapitate Jimmer Fredette in the closing seconds. Watched being the operative word. A completely unnecessary cheap shot with the game well in hand, and yet, where were Fredette’s teammates? Nobody is asking for punches to be thrown, but would it have killed a guy to get in Babbitt’s face or maybe shove the guy? You know, let Jimmer and the whole team know we won’t accept dirty fouls like that. It was so weak to see the team just take that foul with no retribution. Letting some no name schmuck take a shot at one of your teammates…hard to understand.
REMEMBER THE FIRST HALF? — What made the game’s outcome even more puzzling is that the first half featured terrific Kings basketball. After a typical slow start, Keith Smart turned to Jimmer Fredette (25 MIN, 13 PTS, 5-12 FG, 6 AST) and the Kings reserves. And Jimmer responded by performing like a legitimate NBA player. Confident, aggressive, scoring, passing, fighting on defense. It was hardly recognizable. Jimmer’s energy ignited his teammates. Thomas Robinson (30 MIN, 12 PTS, 5-7 FG, 4 REB) was active and finishing at the rim. Selfish play was shelved, and the ball was moving. The Kings trailed by four at the half, but momentum had shifted and a much better outcome would have been expected.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS — James Johnson (33 MIN, 16 PTS, 7-13 FG) got some of his baskets in garbage time, but thankfully, he made a concerted effort to attack the basket rather than launch jumpers … Chuck Hayes (31 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-7 FG, 8 REB, 6 AST) missed two gimme layups, but his work passing-wise from the high post was very strong. And he got burned by some questionable calls against LaMarcus Aldridge to keep him from a solid defensive game … Aaron Brooks started but played only 7 minutes before exiting with an ankle injury. Isaiah Thomas (death in family) and DeMarcus Cousins (suspension) were already absent.