CK Press Box Report: Portland Trail Blazers 96, Sacramento Kings 85

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For the second time in as many nights, the Portland Trail Blazers dispatched the Sacramento Kings, this time by the final score of 96-85.  The Kings are now 1-5 on the season and have lost five in a row.

The Blazers jumped all over the Kings in the third quarter, taking a 15 point lead into the fourth quarter.  Portland’s lead grew to 22 before Michael Malone turned DeMarcus Cousins loose on the Blazers frontline.  Cousins, flanked by Greivis Vasquez, rookie Ben McLemore and seldom used players Jimmer Fredette and Luc Mbah a Moute, stormed back, cutting the Portland lead to seven before running out of gas.

Cousins led all scores, putting up his second straight 30-plus point, 10-plus rebound performance.  McLemore provided a bench spark, scoring 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting and hitting all three of his 3-point baskets.

Damian Lillard couldn’t buy a bucket tonight.  Last season’s rookie of the year scored just four points on 1-for-15 shooting.  LaMarcus Aldridge dropped in 22 points and 14 rebounds and Wesley Matthews added 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting.

The Kings fall to 1-4 on the season and 1-3 at home.  They return to action Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets after a three day break.

Notes and Analysis

  • Cousins is rolling once again.  The Kings starting center scored 25 of his game-high 33 points in the second half, including 17 points on 6-f0r-6 shooting in the fourth quarter.  This was the second straight 30 point, 10 rebound performance for Cousins, but unfortunately, it came in another losing effort.
  • Rookie McLemore looked very good off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing three rebounds in 28 minutes of action.  Change is coming to the Kings starting lineup, which might mean a starting spot at either the shooting guard or small forward position for the talented rookie.
  • Isaiah Thomas scored well, but didn’t give the Kings much else in his 17 minutes.  It was pretty clear that coach Malone wanted to mix and match his lineups tonight after yet another slow start by the Kings.  Thomas rode the pine through most of the fourth quarter as the Kings gave the three guard set of Vasquez, Jimmer and McLemore a look.  Thomas deserves to start, but Malone may stick with him off the bench as a primary scorer for this team.
  • John Salmons and Patrick Patterson hurt the Kings mightily once again.  Salmons shot 0-for-2 from the field in 24 minutes of action, finishing with zero points, one assist and three rebounds.  Patterson scored six points in 28 minutes, but grabbed two rebounds from the power forward position.  Changes are coming to the starting line-up.
  • There has been a Jimmer Fredette sighting!  #NBAElvis.  Jimmer’s stats don’t jump off the page, but the kid has had an extremely rough couple of weeks.  Coach Malone is probably happy with a four-point, three-rebound, three-assist game from the former BYU standout.  Those three rebounds are exactly one more than his starting power forward grabbed.
  • Mbah a Moute received his first real playing time of the season and the results are intriguing.  How does a player finish with a line of no points, two assists, one rebound and five fouls have the only positive +/- number on the team?  It’s a small sample size for +/-, but Mbah a Moute is a great defender and the Kings need someone to stop the bleeding.
  • Stat of the Night: Portland outrebounded Sacramento 52-33 on the night.  When the Kings got defensive stops, they couldn’t get the board and that is one of the main reasons they lost this game.

Quote of the Game

Coach Malone on his team’s play:

“I’m embarrassed – every night it’s the same thing. They dominated the glass; we finally get a night when we defend at a decent level but we can’t rebound, we get outworked on the glass. I think we have a lot of guys that just care about themselves on this team, and if their game is not going, they quit playing. Changes will be made before we play on Wednesday.

Video shot and edited by Kimani David.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.