Kings 79, Blazers 101: Growing Pains

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 28: (L to R) Gerald Wallace #3, head coach Nate McMillan and Wes Matthews #2 of the Portland Trail Blazers gather during a time out in the fourth quarter of Game Six of the Western Conference Quartefinals in the 2011 NBA Playsoffs on April 28, 2011 at the Rose garden in Portland, Oregon. The Mavericks won the game 103-96 to win the series and advance. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

This is a young team, and one that is still trying to figure out its identity. As Tom mentioned earlier today, the Kings are playing mostly new players, and this lack of cohesion and chemistry was especially evident tonight. The effort was there, but when a more experienced Blazers team stepped up their game in the middle of the 2nd quarter, the Kings had trouble responding.

The game started out well enough, with the team playing the same solid defense as yesterday and moving the ball well on offense. For most of the first half, the Kings were in control, with a lot of help from our big men. Cousins and Hickson were doing some good work inside, and Hayes was limiting Aldridge's offense and cleaning up on the glass. Jason Thompson came in during the 2nd quarter and also had a great contribution, and his jumper looked smooth.

Our guards had a tough time getting anything going though, and while the Blazers defense had a lot to do with it, we just weren't hitting our shots despite getting some good looks. That happens some nights, but the solution is just to keep moving the ball and getting the good shots. The Kings didn't do it however, and fell into the trap of taking increasingly desperate attempts or making bad decisions in order to get something, anything going. Obviously this was counter-productive, and the Blazers capitalized.

We're not going to win many nights when our two best players (Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans) combine for just 18 points on 23 shots, and commit 7 turnovers. We're not going to win too many nights when our two best defenders in Chuck Hayes and John Salmons are plagued with foul trouble all night. We're not going to win many nights when we have yet another stinker at the line. We're not going to win many nights going only 3-16 from three, or shooting less than 40% in the game. We're not going to win many nights when we only have 11 assists to 18 turnovers. We're not going to win many nights playing like this.

All credit to the Blazers, and especially their defense, which was incredible. Gerald Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge both played like All-Stars, and the Blazers got good contributions from every one on the floor.

The Kings are taking baby steps towards respectability, and there will inevitably be nights like this. We just need to learn from it and move on.

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