After a crushing reminder that the Kings are still the Kings and the world is just an insignificant chunk of rock spinning through endless darkness around a gigantic ball of gas on Monday night, the Sacramento Kings have no time to think about the mistakes made in their previous game. Tonight comes an opportunity for absolution in the form of a game against the Portland Trailblazers, a game that holds significant meaning as the Blazers are only a single game out of the eighth spot that the Kings are desperately clinging to. On the second night of a back to back, after a double overtime loss and on the road, Sacramento Kings players and fans alike will be staring at a prime opportunity to accurately gauge their intestinal fortitude. This game will be featured on CSN-CA, can be heard on KHTK 1140 and starts at 7 pm Pacific. Let's talk Kings basketball.
A Few Things to Consider:
It ain't about how hard you hit: Monday night's loss to the Hornets was a treat. DeMarcus destroyed all who met his challege. Rondo was "20 Assist Rondo". Willie Cauley-Stein, a rookie, was making game saving defensive plays and dropping in potential game winners. In games like those, especially at home, it can sometimes feel like destiny should will those games into the hands of the good guys, in this case, the Kings. But then a frustration smack by DeMarcus to pick up his fifth foul pops into remembrance. Rudy gets jabbed in the eye. A relative nobody hits 8-11 from three including what ended up being the go ahead bucket, and the good guys lose. That's the NBA. That's the Sacramento Kings. The "L" is officially in its correct column and a hungry team in Portland is waiting to snatch that coveted 8th spot if the distraction and fatigue is too much to overcome.
After so many statement games and rock bottoms the Sacramento Kings have found themselves a part of, Tuesday night's game against the Blazers will be the first look at whether or not this new and improved Sacramento Kings squad really has changed from its somewhat bipolar ways earlier this season. Wins and smiles and missed high fives and effort come easy when a six game win streak is in store. Let's see if that same winning effort comes out after two hard fought overtimes and a loss. Let's see if these January Kings are ready to respond to a true gut check.
Standing in the Red Corner: Coming in with five wins and four losses in the New Year, the Portland Trail Blazers have hung around in the Western Conference far better than what many pundits had imagined they would, and are now a win away from grabbing the 8th seed away from the Kings. This Blazers squad is a pretty much all over the place however. They've beaten the Thunder, Jazz and Wizards in January but lost by 25 to the improved, but still horrible Sixers. In terms of offensive and defensive ratings, Portland is a high rated offense (at 8th overall) and a lower rated defense (at 24th overall) than the Kings (11th and 19th overall, respectively). In terms of rankings of their raw stats, the Blazers do a couple of things very well. They're in the top 4 in the league in field goals made and attempted, three pointers made and attempted and total rebounds. The Kings defensively are 18th in field goals given up, and dead last in how many three pointers are attempted and made against them. If the Kings are going to rebound with a win against the Trail Blazers, they're going to have to defend much better than their season averages, something that, admittedly, they have been doing since the changing of the calendar.
Odds and Ends:
If you've been living under a rock since Monday at 6:59 pm, DeMarcus Cousins had 56 points last night, breaking the Sacramento Kings scoring record that was previously held by Chris Webber at 51. The record for the franchise is held by Jack Twyman, who had 59 points for the Cincinnati Royals against the Minneapolis Lakers in 1960. Oddly enough, all three of these records were scored in January, with Webber's being scored on January 5th (2001), Twyman's on January 15th (1960) and Cousins' on January 25th (2016, duh). I don't know what any of that is supposed to mean, but obviously the Illuminati are involved.
Kings pull themselves back from the cliff with solid and in control offensive sets, DeMarcus is crabby but laser focused against their measly big men and the Kings stay pat at the eight spot; Kings 105, Blazers 95