CK Press Box Report – Portland Trail Blazers 103, Sacramento Kings 86

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

 
For a second-straight game, the Sacramento Kings played without DeMarcus Cousins and his absence hurt them Tuesday night.  They were out-rebounded (44-33) and out-shot (48.6 percent to 46.8 percent) by the Portland Trail Blazers in a 103-86 loss at Sleep Train Arena.

Quotes of the Game

Thomas Robinson on what happened in the third quarter when the Blazers finished with a 24-4 run in the final seven and a half minutes:

Our decision making was off.  We need to come into the game with good decision making, which is something we have to work on.  Also, being down and fighting so much to get back, then going down to 20-something, especially playing against Portland, we’re not likely to come back twice in a game.  We just have to learn how to keep our composure once we get that lead back.  We have to start the game off strong.

Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stott on the third quarter:

Defensively, they scored 10 quick points and we started to protect the rim better. We contested shots at the rim and that allowed us to get out and play.  I thought we moved the ball really well during that period as well.

Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard on what he’s improving and working on:

I’m just trying to be consistent.  I know that being myself is good enough and if I can consistently perform well enough to help the team win games then I know that will get it done.  Last game, I didn’t shoot the ball so well, but I took the same shots.  They just fell tonight.

Notes and Analysis

  • Lillard looks like a star in the making.  The rookie point guard out of Weber State went one pick after the Kings drafted Robinson with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.  Lillard finished with 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 5-for-6 from behind the arc and he also added nine assists.  He looks like an early candidate for Rookie of the Year.
  • Robinson had a very effective game after missing the previous two due to suspension.  The big man out of Kansas finished with 12 points (5-for-7) and four rebounds in more than 30 minutes of action.  Robinson runs the floor like an antelope and has a knack for finding the ball as a rebounder.  He is still working out some of the transitional kinks to the pro game, but what he does right now is supply a ton of energy to the second unit.  As he gets more comfortable, look for him to use his shooting touch to open the floor for both his own game and his teammates.
  • With Isaiah Thomas missing the game due to personal reasons and Aaron Brooks going down early with a left ankle injury, Jimmer Fredette played 25 minutes tonight for the Kings.  He was definitely better in the first half where he scored 10 of his 13 points and led a second-quarter Kings charge.  He also did a nice job of distributing the ball, finishing with six assists, including a stunning 3/4 court lead pass to Robinson for a big dunk.  With 24.2 remaining on the clock, Jimmer took a huge shot from Luke Babbitt and crashed down hard.  Babbitt received a flagrant foul call and Jimmer was left rubbing his head, which bounced pretty hard off the floor.
  • James Johnson had his best offensive game of the season, finishing with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting.  The 25-year old wing has struggled to fit into the Kings offensive scheme, often times getting in the way of his teammates and clogging space on the floor.  He is still and amazing defender, which was on full display this evening.  He had an incredible close-out block of a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer in the first half and later he blocked former King J.J. Hickson on a low post move.  He’s versatile, but he really needs to work on his offensive spacing issues.
  • I’m not quite sure what to make of Tyreke Evans‘ struggles.  The fourth year guard/forward looks lost on the offensive end, unless he is playing the point like he did for stretches tonight.  In 30 minutes, Evans finished with 10 points and four assists, but he took only eight shots.  The Kings need to find a way to get his going or this season is going to slip away fast.
  • With Cousins missing his second-straight game due to suspension, Jason Thompson has begun to rebound again.  The trick now is for Thompson to show he can go for double-digit rebounding numbers with Cousins playing alongside him.  For his career, Thompson has hovered right around the 15-percent mark for total rebounds.  This season, that number has dropped to just 11 percent, well below what is expected of him.
  • Stat of the Night: On their home floor, the Kings hit just one of their 11 three-point attempts tonight, while the Blazers went 14-for-27.
  • Additional notes: Francisco Garcia was not suited up for tonight’s game because of the flu.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1. Who wins the mid-major point guard battle: Jimmer Fredette or Damian Lillard?

Jimmer got ample time on the court with the team short-handed.  In the first half, the match-up was fairly even with Lillard scoring 13 on 4-of-7 shots and Fredette scoring 10 points on 5-of-8 from the field.  But Lillard proceeded to dominate after intermission, scoring his final eight points in the third quarter.  Lillard finished tonight’s game with 22 points, nine assists and the victory.

2. Does Nicolas Batum manhandle the Kings from the wing?

Nicolas Batum came into tonight’s contest as the Blazers’ second-leading scorer.  The 19-point-per-game forward was held by the Kings to six points on six shots in the first half.  However, he went on to go 4-of-7 after halftime, where the Blazers ran away with the game on a 24-4 run to end the third period .   Batum finished with 15 points.

3. Will Tyreke Evans or James Johnson find their ways on offense?

Before Tuesday’s game, the Kings guard and forward were shooting astronomically low percentages from the perimeter.  However, both men shot at or above 50 percent from the field this evening.  They’re still showing tentativeness from the perimeter and it was evident from their shot selection.  Johnson went 7-of-8 on shots around the rim, but missed his five other attempts.  Evans scored on 2-of-3 shots around the basket and went 2-of-5 from outside the paint.

- Jonathan Santiago 

 Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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