The Sacramento Kings proved yet again that winning in the NBA is not easy, as they fell to the Portland Trailblazers by a score of 98-94. The loss is only the 2nd in the last 9 at Sleep Train for the Kings, and denied George Karl a win that would have tied him with Phil Jackson for career total wins.
In what seemed to be a performance hindered by too much eggnog and a lack of focus, the Kings simply did not defend the Blazers’ shooters and could not defend C.J. McCollum. Couple poor defense with a logic-defying 23 turnovers and you have the perfect recipe for disappointment. McCollum totaled 35 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals and the Blazers scored 28 points off of the Kings’ turnovers.
The Kings seemed slow most of the night, but there was always the sense that they could go on a run at will with DeMarcus Cousins in the post against Myers Leonard and Mason Plumlee. Cousins did finish with 36 points and 6 rebounds, but tallied 5 turnovers and simply looked overwhelmed attempting to guard any of the Blazers in pick and roll situations.
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Outside of Cousins, the Kings could not find a solid second scoring option. Omri Casspi contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds and Rajon Rondo had 9 points with 15 assists. Unfortunately, with Rondo’s 15 assists came 8 turnovers and Rajon just seemed to lose control of the game after a hot 1st quarter.
Rudy Gay, normally the Kings’ 2nd option on offense, simply could not find the net tonight either. In 34 minutes, Gay shot a ghastly 17% from the floor (2 for 12) for only 7 total points. He did contribute on the boards, grabbing 14 rebounds in the loss.
The Kings won’t have much time to sulk over this loss, however. They go on the road to face the league-leading Golden State Warriors on Monday night and will look to give the Warriors just their 2nd loss of the season. If the issues with focus and effort from this game persist, you can expect similar results in Oakland for this squad. Hopefully the disappointment fuels the Kings rather than discourages them, as a win at Golden State will help the team, coaches and fans move on from such an ugly outing.