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Kings 93, Blazers 105: Lean, mean, tanking machine

The results for this game were exactly what you'd expect

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Start your engines, gentleman. With DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, and Rudy Gay getting the night off because of "rest", the Kings fired their first major salvo in the tanking game in an effort to keep their pick. The rest of the nuked roster put up a scrappy but futile fight against the firepower possessed by the Portland Trailblazers, but simply could not keep up. The game was over by the end of the third, and the entire fourth quarter was garbage time.

The Kings kept up with the Blazers in the first quarter in a way that George Karl's dribble-drive offense was intended to. The Kings scored 32 first quarter points, with a host of Kings peppering in contributions led by Omri Casspi's 8 points. The ball was moving fluidly around the perimeter and into the paint. Unfortunately, they were playing awful defense leaving three point shooters open all over the place. The Kings offense cooled off, and the Blazers built a 16 point lead at halftime on the back of 11/14 shooting from three point range.

The Kings offense finally ground to a complete halt in the third quarter. The defense had stiffened up considerably, but unfortunately so did Portland's. WIthout any kind of offensive production, The Kings posted a solid defensive rating of 89.7 in the quarter, but their offensive rating in the quarter was a hilariously bad 44.4. The Kings were down by 28 going into the fourth, and Portland never went to their starters again.

It'll be interesting to see who plays for the Kings from now onward. Only two games in the loss column separate the Kings from 11th place, which is terrifying; if the Kings fall outside the top 10, their lottery pick goes to the Bulls. It would be another kick in the groin after this miserable season to lose out on their first rounder completely. The Kings next play Washington on Wednesday.

Random Observations

  • Ben McLemore had an atrocious game, but that's not surprising. Ben's was asked to create offense off the dribble against a set defense and that's just not something he's ever going to be good at. And for all his athletic gifts, Ben is one uncoordinated guy. His end-to-end speed and leaping ability are off the charts, but his lateral movement is so awkward. I think its because he did the reverse Anthony Davis thing and grew up a big man and transitioned to guard later. He's just not fluid in his movement; he gets caught on screens on defense, his ballhandling ability is robotic, and he botches really easy plays like dribble hand-offs.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein has been on fire recently, and had another solid outing today. Without Rondo around to toss him lobs, he had to do a lot more work off the dribble and posting up. He did a good job; he shot 50% from the field, doing a lot of dirty work on the offensive glass, and even hitting a couple of silky midrange jumpers. His half-hook was off tonight, but those field goal attempts followed smooth moves to get into position and looked well under control. On defense, Willie still relies too much on his athleticism on the perimeter without getting into a solid defensive stance and taking away the offensive player's airspace, but that hasn't changed all year, and I don't suspect it'll change until someone on the coaching staff wakes up and points it out to him. He's still a disruptive force with his instincts, and he cleaned the glass with his rebounding ability.
  • Omri Casspi's free throws are one of life's great mysteries. How is he so bad?
  • I really liked Seth's defense tonight. He had C.J. McCollum bottled up whenever McCollum wasn't shooting a three off a kickout. Curry has been good for the Kings this year whenever he's got minutes. Seth struggled with his offense until garbage time, but he performed well against Portland's second stringers, ending the game with a career high 21 points.
  • Kosta Koufos, whenever Cousins is out, seems to be the main rolling big man off of pick-and-rolls, and gets fed way too often. Its just not Kosta's game.

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