The Sacramento Kings are shorthanded but played hard. Thats really all we as fans can ask at this point. This was an acceptable loss against a Portland Trailblazers squad that has aspirations to play in June. The Kings took a big punch from the Blazers in the first quarter and came on the cusp of coming back several times only to be put away, ultimately losing 110-99.
Rudy Gay has had some outstanding games against the Blazers this season, and while this outing wasn't nearly as spectacular, he was the engine that drove the team for majority of the night. Gay scored 24 points on 22 shots and grabbed 8 rebounds in the process. Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore both had strong first halves, but quieted down significantly in the second half, scoring 12 points each. And Derrick Williams finally broke through, scoring 18 points (12 in the fourth quarter), repeatedly getting fed by the immaculate passing of Andre Miller. Miller was a maestro off the bench, scoring 12 points and dishing 10 assists in 26 minutes.
But the Kings just lacked the top-end talent on the court necessary to beat the Blazers. No Darren Collison and no DeMarcus Cousins means that not only are the Kings missing two of their top three offensive players, but also their top two defensive players as well. It also meant that bench players were forced to step up as main starters. With Jason Thompson in foul trouble, the Kings defense was severely compromised for most of the game, as evidenced by the explosion of Robin Lopez for 15 points. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge got theirs, but letting roleplayers like Lopez go off is brutal.
There's really not much more to say. The Kings cut the lead to one in the fourth, but ultimately superior talent won over. Sometimes the opponent is just better. There's not much to complain about from the Kings side, they played about as well as they could given the roster. The ball's in Pete D'Alessandro's court to improve the roster and in whatever deity you believe in to give Cousins and Collison a speedy recovery.
- Damian Lillard is a bad, bad man. McCallum made him work but he's got so many moves; midrange, long range, craftiness around the basket. And poor Andre didn't stand a chance.
- Derrick Williams had one of his bi-monthly explosion games, tantalizing again with his athletic tools and talent. But again, the question is how consistently this version of DWill shows up. Andre Miller sure makes his life a lot easier though.
- Ryan Hollins played some spirited defense in the fourth quarter. The Kings made a run mainly because his rim protection really helped the bench defend the Blazers offense.
- Reggie Evans really got Robin Lopez worked up at the end of the first half. Lopez gave Evans a blatant two-handed shove going after a rebound for a flagrant foul.
- The Professor has revived the Kings bench. With Miller at the helm, Casspi and Williams are able to get points just by running hard and fast. Miller had 10 of the Kings' 24 assists.
- Carl Landry continues to be seemingly the odd man out in the Karl-era Kings. As a small PF who no longer has great explosive quickness and athleticism, can't shoot the three, and is a poor rebounder and defender, its tough to find a spot in Karl's free-flowing offense.