For the recap tonight, I did something a little bit different, keeping a game diary as the game went. What follows are my thoughts on the game as it happened, including some final thoughts. I got lucky in choosing such a fun game to do this on, and although the Kings didn't come up with the win, it was still one of the more fun games of the season.
7:02 pm: Telecast has started. No Isaiah Thomas and no Rudy Gay again. Time to grab a beer or fie.
7:03 pm: These KFC commercials are driving me crazy this season. Nobody gets this excited about KFC.
7:05 pm: Grant's interviewing Travis for the pre-game interview. Travis' accent is the best.
7:09 pm: Telecast shows a nice view of Portland. I've never been up there, would like to visit both Portland and Seattle sometime soon.
7:10 pm: Remember when Wes Matthews was "discovered" by the Kings by playing on their summer league team? And then they ended up not signing him for peanuts and he went to Utah instead.
7:13 pm: Kings get first possession and the Blazers are whistled for a defensive three second violation in the first 15 seconds, but unfortunately McLemore misses the free throw and Jason Thompson misses a fadeaway.
7:13 pm: First score of the game goes to Portland thanks to a long jumper by Aldridge. He's mastered that mid-range jumper.
7:14 pm: Kings tie it up thanks to a nice drive from Ben. That was nice to see, and finishing around Robin Lopez was even better.
7:15 pm: Cousins has missed his first two jumpers, a shot he's been hitting at a high rate lately.
7:16 pm: Cousins gets a backcourt steal, but those are the ones I don't like him trying to get because more often than not they end up in fouls. Meanwhile Blazers race up the court after Cousins fails to convert and Aldridge gets to the line to make it 8-2 Portland.
7:18 pm: Jason Thompson should be called the Assists destroyer. Cousins just fed him a beautiful pass in the post, but Jason decided to take an extra dribble instead of going up strong and his shot went up after shot clock expired. Very poor recognition and execution from JT there. Portland takes it down and scores on the other end to take a 12-4 lead and Malone calls a timeout.
7:21 pm: Out of the timeout, Kings post up Cousins, who gets doubled and finds McLemore at the top of the key for an open three. More importantly, it goes in. Good start for McLemore.
7:22 pm: Cousins gets on the board with a free throw line jumper and then Kings get a steal on the other end, where Cousins hits another free throw line jumper. Back in rhythm and Kings have cut the lead to 14-11.
7:24 pm: Outlaw has had some nice passes lately, and he drives to find Cousins at the rim, where he makes the shot and gets fouled by Thomas Robinson. Misses the free throw though.
7:25 pm: Yet another layup for the Blazers. Kings interior defense has stunk so far.
7:25 pm: The Kings actually finished a lob! Ray to Ben for a contested layup. Not a dunk, but hey, two points is two points.
7:27 pm: McLemore misses his first shot, a mid-range pull-up, but Cousins gets the offensive rebound and put back. It's 21-17 Portland and we have another timeout.
7:28 pm: This Mark Cuban U-verse commercial with the doorbells always drives my dog crazy. It's pretty funny.
7:29 pm: Jesus, they just showed the shooting stats and the Blazers are 9-10, I hadn't realized they were shooting that well.
7:31 pm: Cousins is trying really hard on defense, but Blazers are exploiting his help d by finding the open man when he helps.
7:32 pm: D-Will has come in and missed his first two shots, but I like that he's being aggressive. Lately he's been invisible on the court.
7:33 pm: Jared Cleverpork is really athletic. Got the defensive rebound and took it all the way down to the court, but an unlucky bounce cost him the basket. Interesting that he's in for McLemore and not McCallum. Ray needs to rest sometime, doesn't he?
7:35 pm: First quarter's in the books, Blazers lead 27 to 20. Good effort from Kings overall, but bad defense and a greater amount of offensive threats on the home team are proving too much.
7:36 pm: I like to think this guy actually did get a Pizza Guys tattoo for this commercial.
7:37 pm: Ray's actually getting a rest! Let's see how long it lasts. I give it 2 minutes of game time. Maybe 3.
7:39 pm: Another steal for the Kings leads to a breakout dunk for Acy. Kings have been very active in the passing lane so far tonight.
7:41 pm: Another basket around the rim by Ben McLemore. He's playing very well and now has a game-high 10 points on 4-6 shooting. His play to end the season has made me much more optimistic about his future.
7:42 pm: Another bucket for Ben! That cuts the lead to 29-27. The Kings stop Lillard on the other end and Cunningham ties it up with a nifty floater. Bench is playing much better than they were last night.
7:43 pm: Another miss for D-Will, but the aggression is a welcome sight. If he keeps attacking, things will eventually go in his favor, or he'll get to the line.
7:46 pm: This bench unit's actually playing pretty well, so Ray's actually getting a decent breather.
7:47 pm: Then again the Blazers just got back to back uncontested dunks. Malone's not thrilled.
7:50 pm: Out of the timeout we have a possession that ends with a 20 foot jumper from Reggie Evans. Of all the players on this team that you would want shooting a 20 foot jumper, Reggie Evans probably is the last one.
7:52 pm: A 7-0 run by the Blazers to make it 38-31 gets Cousins and McCallum back into the game.
7:52 pm: D-Will takes it to the basket again and this time it goes in. Now he needs to keep it up.
7:53 pm: Damian Lillard's at the line and it feels like the Blazers have been to the line a lot already. A quick look at the box score shows them with 13 attempts to Sacramento's 5.
7:55 pm: Blazers just rotated the ball around the horn twice and missed the corner three on the second time around. I actually think Wes Matthews screwed up by not taking the corner three the first time, when he was more open. The Kings did a good job of rotating though.
7:57 pm: Kings are in a bit of a shooting slump and Portland has an 11 point lead, their largest of the game. Someone needs to get going for the Kings. These are the situations where we really miss Isaiah and Rudy, or hell, even Marcus Thornton.
7:58 pm: Ben badly misses a three, but it was so bad that Williams caught it cleanly and dunked it. Can we just call that an assist?
8:01 pm: There's almost three minutes left in the half and the Blazers already have 17 free throw attempts. That and the fact they're shooting 60+% from the field is a big reason they're up 48 to 35.
8:02 pm: Ben's missed his last three shots and is now 5-10 after being 5-7. He's streaky, and finding consistency will need to happen at some point if he wants to make an impact in his league.
8:04 pm: Wow, Batum just threw a perfect lob pass from well beyond the three point arc with the Kings defense set, and Matthews made the even more difficult catch to put it in. That was impressive.
8:05 pm: Man, if only Cousins ran back on defense as fast as he does to get down on offense... (he has been better about running back on defense this season though)
8:06 pm: Jason Thompson misses two free throws. I have no idea what has happened to his stroke since he came into the league. He was right around 70% his first two years in the league, and despite a seeming resurgence last year, is at 58.9% this year.
8:08 pm: Ray with a really impressive take to the basket but they call a foul and don't give him continuation. Ray has a really nice handle, and I'm as interested to see how he progresses next season as the more heralded McLemore.
8:10 pm: Wow, 2.1 seconds left and the Blazers foul the Kings before the ball is inbounded, meaning Kings get the ball to end the quarter instead and RAY MCCALLUM HITS THE THREE AT THE BUZZER. TREY MAC! That cuts the lead to 10 at 56 to 46 entering the half.
8:27 pm: And we're back. Portland gets a quick bucket from Lillard to start the half, but Ben gets open on the other end to answer right back.
8:28 pm: Cousins hits two jumpers in a row to cut it to 6. The way he's been shooting the ball from outside lately has been amazing. If that's a consistent threat, he'll be nearly unstoppable.
8:30 pm: Cousins is on fire, making his 4th of 5 attempts in the quarter.
8:31 pm: A nice stop leads to a fastbreak and Ray gets fouled. Robin Lopez gets called for a tech for being rightly frustrated at not getting a foul call on the other end. Ray hits the tech and both free throws to make it a 4 point game at 63 to 59. McCallum now has 11 points and 7 assists.
8:32 pm: Matthews hits another three. The Blazers just have so many weapons, especially on the perimeter. The only guy in their starting lineup that can't hit a three is Lopez. Ben's three on the other end rims in and out.
8:34 pm: Cousins grabs more rebounds with one hand than anyone I've ever seen. He's now at 8 boards for the game.
8:38 pm: Portland switches to a zone out of the timeout, but Cousins just takes the ball right to the rim for an easy dunk. On the other end, JT has a nice block on Aldridge. The Kings take it to the other end of the court where Cousins finally connects with JT for an actual assist as JT converts the dunk. Three point game!
8:40 pm: DeMarcus Cousins is eating Thomas Robinson alive in the paint, on both ends of the court. He's just too big and strong for him.
8:41 pm: Ah there are those famous hands of T-Rob's, fumbling an easy pass from Lillard for another Portland turnover. However the Kings turn it over themselves and Robinson converts the layup to extend the lead to 74-67.
8:44 pm: According to Jason Jones, Cousins has passed Brad Miller for 9th all time in Sacramento-era scoring. He's also one rebound away from breaking C-Webb's single season double-double record of 50.
8:45 pm: Kings get whistled for a defensive three second call, which if they can get a stop on ensuing possession will be worth it, because otherwise the Blazers would have scored a layup.
8:45 pm: And they do get the stop! Thanks for shooting a jumper T-Rob!
8:46 pm: Travis misses again. He's probably a bit tired after playing against Durant last night.
8:47 pm: Kings haven't scored in a while and now the Blazers have gone up 79-67 on a nice looking jumper from ... T-Rob. That's an 11-2 run for Portland now. Malone calls timeout.
8:49 pm: Cousins gets to the basket with a nice move, gets the ball on the window and T-Rob blocks it but it's a goaltend since it hit the glass first. That's 22 points for Cousins now.
8:50 pm: Cunningham stopped a Blazers' fastbreak with a good poke from behind to get the ball out of Robinson's hands and McCallum again ends the quarter with a basket to make it 79 to 71. The Kings outscored the Blazers 25 to 23 in the third, but will need their best quarter yet to have a chance to win. Some threes would really help; the team has only hit 3 so far. Sacramento's FG% has jumped from 35% to 42.4% and Portland's has fallen from 60% to 55.4%.
8:54 pm: Kings start the 4th with a lineup of McCallum, Cunningham, Williams, Thompson and Evans. Let's see who handles scoring duties.
8:55 pm: Evans and Thompson apparently, as they score the first two buckets of the quarter to make it a four point game. Portland misses a three on the other end, Cunningham pushes it all the way, misses a layup, but Evans is there for the putback and it's now just a two point game at 79-77! The bench has stepped up tonight.
8:56 pm: Ha, the U-verse commercial. My dog continues to be baffled at the source.
8:58 pm: Welp, Damian Lillard is awake. He drills a contested three to put Portland back up 5.
9:00 pm: Another steal and Ray McCallum with a sick behind the back dribble to blow by the defender and take to the basket to make it a one point game! McCallum is holding his own against Lillard.
9:01 pm: McCallum misses a stop and pop that would have given the Kings their first lead and Wes Matthews hits one of his own on the other end.
9:01 pm: Trey Mac ties it up with a corner three! Great ball movement from the Kings, and that's 20 points for Ray. He's 3-3 from downtown.
9:02 pm: Ray takes it to the basket to try for the lead again but Lopez blocks it and Evans travels after getting the offensive board. All tied up at 84.
9:03 pm: Lillard breaks the tie with a couple of free throws after getting hacked by Cousins as he takes it to the basket.
9:03 pm: Kings get stopped inside, but they get it back thanks to a nice strip by McCallum to knock the ball off Matthews knee as he took it to the basket. However Cousins airballs a jumper on the other end, by far his worst looking shot of the game.
9:04 pm: Batum takes it right to the basket for an uncontested dunk. That was too easy. Cousins answers right back though with a drive and tip in of his first attempt, breaking C-Webb's double-double record in the process. Congrats Big Cuz!
9:06 pm: Jeez, Lillard. He drills a deep three from the top of the key and the Blazers are back up 5 at 91-86. (Try not to think we could have had him, try not to think we could have had him... dammit). Timeout Kings. With 5:30 left there's plenty of time, but Sacramento's going to have to step up another notch defensively.
9:09 pm: Cousins misses at the rim but Evans gets the offensive board and Trey Mac hits his fourth three from the top of the key!
9:10 pm: Cousins throws a very risky pass to Outlaw down low, but Outlaw gets it and even though he misses, gets fouled and to the line to try to cut it to two. He gets one of two, and it's 93-90.
9:11 pm: Cousins misses another jumper, he's missed a few in a row now, and is just 12-25 now.
9:11 pm: Williams steals the ball, the 9th of the game for Sacramento. He barely misses the layup but gets to the line, where he makes one. 93-91 Portland.
9:13 pm: Cousins ties it up at 93 with a reverse layup after Aldridge uncharacteristically misses a wide open jumper on the other end.
9:13 pm: With 4 team fouls and 3 minutes left, Cousins steps out against the driving Lillard and draws the charge! 2:58 left, timeout on the floor, Kings with a chance to take the lead after! What a fun game. That's Portland's 17th turnover of the game, compared to just 10 for the Kings.
9:16 pm: The Kings are thwarted from taking the lead once again as Reggie Evans doesn't clear the lane in time and gets whistled for a three second call. Batum misses a jumper on the other end, but Aldridge is there to put it back.
9:17 pm: Travis Outlaw will save us! He hits the jumper to tie it again.
9:18 pm: Great defense on Aldridge by Evans forces a tough missed shot, and Cousins hits a jumper on the other end to give Sacramento their first lead of the night at 97-95!
9:18 pm: Another great defensive possession on Aldridge by Evans. Aldridge gets back his own miss but doesn't control it and it goes out of bounds. Kings ball!
9:19 pm: Cousins misses this time, and on the other end Lillard gets open for a three and every Kings fans hearts go in their throat, but it just misses. Lopez gets fouled by Evans as they crash the boards though and it's free throws with 42.3 seconds left. Lopez hits both and it's 97 all. Malone wants to talk it over. Whatever happens, the Kings should be commended for their effort tonight.
9:22 pm: Out of the timeout the Kings get it to Cousins, who drives on Lopez, but Lopez plays good D and alters the shot.
9:23 pm: Cousins knocks the ball loose and McCallum gets it! Cousins goes up for the dunk but gets fouled and sent to the line with 14.8 seconds left. First one's good! Evans comes in for McLemore.
9:23 pm: Second one's good! Timeout, Portland! 99-97 Kings, 14.8 seconds left.
9:25 pm: Blazers have plenty of time to try to tie it but they've also got a lot of deep threats, even if they haven't hit very many tonight at 6-22. Dorell Wright comes in as well, so they've got all perimeter shooters in.
9:26 pm: And Lillard drives to the basket... gets swamped... finds Wright in the corner... and he drills the three. 100-99 Blazers but there are still 7.6 seconds left, plenty of time for Sacramento. Who gets the final shot?
9:27 pm: McCallum gets the ball, dribbles around, steps back and fires... and it comes just short as time expires. It was a great look too, but alas it wasn't meant to be. Fantastic effort and fun game for the Kings though.
The Kings were without two of their highest scorers and still managed to have a chance to beat a team with almost twice as many wins as them. That's more than can be expected, and we got huge games from DeMarcus Cousins (30 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals) and Ray McCallum (23 points, 9 assists and no turnovers). Ben McLemore stepped up with 16 points of his own. Unfortunately the Blazers hit the big shot, and all five of their starters finished in double figures, led by LaMarcus Aldridge's 22 points. Damian Lillard has 19 points and 10 assists, including the game-winning pass to Wright for three after drawing the Kings defense in.
The Kings now have just three games left, and have lost five straight. There's a very good chance that they could end the season on an 8 game losing streak. Still, as long as they give this type of effort every night, that's all I can ask for.
For the opponent's perspective, visit the excellent Blazer's Edge.