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Kings vs.Trail Blazers Preview: Part Deux

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

After their third straight game of down-to-the-wire basketball this preseason, the Sacramento Kings come into the weekend looking to defend their home floor against the Portland Trail Blazers. In Monday night's meeting, a first half drubbing at the hands of the Blazers gave way to a Darren Collison and Marco Belinelli led mob who blazed a trail through the Moda Center in route to a 109-105 Sacramento Kings overtime victory. Tonight's game is the fourth of six preseasons games, the last preseason game in Sacramento and the last chance to see this Trail Blazers' squad until a Kings home game on December 27th.

When: Tonight, 7pm PST

Where: Sleep Train Arena, KHTK 1140

TV: Si or No? This game doesn't appear on CSN-CA schedule, nor will you find in on NBATV.  However, the Kings will be live-streaming the game starting at 7 pm here.

For Your Consideration:

Fish Outta Water? After his 27 point eruption in the second half against this same Portland squad on Monday night, Marco "Polo" Belinelli cooled considerably in his next two showings, going 11/33 from the field combined and hitting a grand total of two three pointers out of his sixteen attempts from beyond the arc. While Marco's overall scoring is best for fourth highest in the league so far this preseason at 21 points a game (Tied with Paul George, and behind only Kyle LowryOtto Porter and Steph Curry) his overall percentages show a player still very much in the process of adjusting to a larger role on this Kings squad.  While George Karl seems to be okay with allowing Belinelli to fire at will, I'd like to see Belinelli concentrate on the type of shots he takes, picking his spots within the offense a bit better.

Reversal of Fortune: For every yin there is a yang and in the case of the Sacramento Kings, the slumping of Marco Belinelli has given way to the mechanized, efficiency driven Terminator that is Rudy Gay. After spending most of Monday's game against the Blazers trying to remember what his name sounded like on the Blazers' PA system, Rudy has absolutely come alive. Shooting 10-13 in each of the next two games, while going a combined 8-10 from the three point line, Rudy has done a fantastic job scoring this preseason and doing it with efficiency. If I had to nitpick with Rudy's preseason so far, it's been watching his turnover totals climb. While adjusting to George Karl's need for quicker basketball has brought a smorgasbord of turnovers to the Kings as a collective, I'd like to see these final few games of preseason have Rudy really focus on getting his teammates the ball without it ending up in the hands of the opposing team at a clip of over three a game.

What Turnovers?: One of the best things coming out of Thursday night's victory against the San Antonio Spurs was the feeling that Rajon Rondo might have some game left in the tank. While it was only his third game playing with the Kings, Rondo stuffed the box score with 6 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals and amazingly ZERO turnovers.  The more comfortable he becomes with Coach Karl's system and with his new teammates, the more and more Rondo has shown the ability to take over the game and do so with a level of efficiency.

[Pointless Disclaimer: It should go without saying to take all preseason stats with a grain of salt.  Tyler Hansbroughand Thomas Robinson are leading the league in rebounding this preseason (17 & 16 rebounds a game, respectively) and our old pal Ramon Sessions is second in the league in assists at 10 per game. The season is young, and preseason gonna preseason.]

Matchups of the Game:

DeMarcus Cousins vs. The Open 3: Boogie has gone 1-of-7 from long range this preseason and while I don't particularly mind him getting it out of his system early in the season, I hope he's beginning to realize that his success as a player doesn't come from being a Splash Cousin.

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Burning Lungs: While the reports of the rookie being out of shape were overblown, it is pretty easy to see the effect that having someone as quick and long as Willie has on the Kings defense. Just Thursday night, Willie sealed the game with an athletic offensive rebound on one end and a closeout of the the potential game tying shot down at the other end.  An energetic Willie gives this team a defensive dynamic that it has lacked in recent years and as his stamina increases, so too do the Kings' chances of winning.

Ben McLemore vs. The Sinking Ship: As Ben has seen offensive flourishes from his teammates Darren Collison, Marco Belinelli and Rudy Gay, Ben himself has remained absent from the festivities and as such, hasn't seen as much time on the floor as I would have hoped for. Let's hope Ben finds his confidence and his range soon, as this Kings squad could always use another deep threat.

Final Prediction: Rajon Rondo and Ben McLemore have a 3 point shooting competition mid-game and Damian Lillard gets caught in the crossfire. Kings win, 105-98.

For the opponents perspective, head on over to Blazer's Edge.


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