Sacramento Kings (1-4) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (3-2) Preview


Nov 8, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) drives to the basket on Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the first quarter of the game at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings 104-91 defeat in Portland on Friday came with some signs of improvement. Despite it being the Kings fourth straight loss, the effort—which had been absent in their previous two games—came back to a majority of the players. The Kings offense struggled, but they stayed with a much more offensively talented Blazers squad. A return to Sacramento for the second half of the home-and-home swap could wield a victory if more Sacramento players heat up.


Sacramento Kings:

Portland Trail Blazers


DeMarcus Cousins, 6’11, Kentucky

21.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.4 SPG, 47.8% FG


Robin Lopez

, 7’0, Stanford

5.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2 BPG, 40% FG


Patrick Patterson

, 6’9, Kentucky

5.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 35.5% FG


LaMarcus Aldridge

, 6’11, Texas

23.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.6  APG, 51.9% FG


John Salmons, 6’6, Miami (FL)

5.8 PPG, 3 APG, 2.4 RPG, 28.2% FG


Nicolas Batum, 6’8, France

13.6 PPG, 8 RPG, 6 APG, 44.4% FG


Marcus Thornton

, 6’4, LSU

9.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 35.4% FG, 30.4% 3P


Wesley Matthews

, 6’5, Marquette

17.4 PPG, 6.4  RPG, 2.4 APG, 53.4% FG


Greivis Vasquez

, 6’6, Maryland

9.6 PPG, 4.0 APG, 2.6 RPG, 44.4% FG


Damian Lillard

, 6’3, Weber State

23.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, 5.4 RPG, 44.3% FG

Key Bench Players:


Isaiah Thomas

, 5’11, Washington

29.4 MPG 19.2 PPG, 5.2 APG, 45.3% FG


Mo Williams

, 6’1, Alabama

23.8 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 4.2 APG, 34.7% FG


Ben McLemore

, 6’5, Kansas

18 MPG, 8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 42.1% FG


Dorrell Wright,  6’9, South Kent HS

14.6 PPG, 4.8 PPG, 3 RPG, 41.2% FG


Jason Thompson

, 6’11, Rider

20.8 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 48.1% FG


Thomas Robinson

, 6’9, Kansas\n

10 MPG, 48 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 52.6% FG

Last Three Contests:

November 8, 2013: Kings @ Trail Blazers – Trail Blazers 104, Kings 91
December 26, 2012: Kings @ Trail Blazers – Trail Blazers 109, Kings 91
December 23, 2012: Trail Blazers @ Kings – Kings 108, Trail Blazers 96

Key Matchup: Greivis Vasquez (and Isaiah Thomas) vs. Damain Lillard

It’s a copy out from our preview yesterday, but the same holds true for this game. Lillard finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and got by both Thomas and Greivis on multiple occasions.

Both of the Kings points had a decent night—they combined for 25 points and 13 assists—but defensively, they need to contain Lillard well. DeMarcus Cousins had a very solid night defensively when the quick Blazers guards got into the paint, but the perimeter defenders need to do a better job of sticking out on Lillard, who made 4 threes.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Down Low DeMarcus: Cousins had an excellent performance on Friday night, finishing with 35 points, nine rebounds and four steals. He’d have had about a dozen assists as well if any of the other Kings had made their easy baskets.

Cousins stuck with Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge, and he needs to repeat it tonight. He can get around Lopez fairly easily, so that’ll hopefully mean more low-post attacking and less jumpshots—which he was fairly consistent with on Friday anyways.

2. Perimeter defense: The Kings defense in the paint was above-average and they allowed just 32 points in the post, but their long-ball defense left much to be desired. Portland made 10-23 from distance and about double that in mid-range shots. It’s tough for the shorter Kings to guard the taller Blazers, who have a height advantage at every position, but far too many shots were wide open.

Nov 8, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) battles for a rebound with Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the first quarter of the game at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

3. A little help?: The Kings got limited heap from anyone at the 2, 3 or 4 spot last night as it was mainly Cousins, Thomas and Vasquez who keep Sacramento in the game. Players at the 2, 3 and 4 combined for just 31 points on 36% shooting. Particular, Marcus Thornton needs to have a breakout performance where he reminds his team why he’s the starter.

Rookie Ben McLemore had his first below-average game of the season, struggling mightily defensively and playing just 7 minutes with 0 points. That needs to change for the Kings to win the rematch.

Prediction: Kings 94, Trail Blazers 89