In the second night of the home-and-away matchup with the Trail Blazers, the Kings offense crumbled early and the defense soon followed in the 102-90 loss on Saturday. For the first quarter-and-a-half, the Kings held with Portland on both ends of the court, but a mad rush by the Blazers from that point on put the game out of reach.
Zach Randolph led the Kings with 17 on 6-11 shooting, while Willie Cauley-Stein had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and three steals. De’Aaron Fox finished with 11 points on 5-9 from the field, but offered little else against a speedy Blazers guard combination that kept him in check in the second half.
The Blazers (8-7) were led by the trio of Damian Lillard (22 points and 6 assists), Jusuf Nurkic (14, 7 boards, 4 blocks), and C.J. McCollum (25 points and 4 assists). Portland shot 54.3% from the field, and their scrappy and sneakily fun guard-led offense rebounded in the push for the Western Playoff rights to lose to the Warriors.
Sacramento returns home for a matchup Monday against the Nuggets and the highly anticipated Fox/Lonzo Ball contest against the Lakers on Wednesday.
- Buddy Hield missed the rematch after injuring his ankle last night, and the Kings missed his scoring power in the first half. After second half spurts from Cauley-Stein and Frank Mason ( 13 on 5-10 shooting), the Kings bench again won the battle over the Blazers reserves 50-35 (It was a 46-22 advantage in the win Friday).
- Speaking of Trill, his heavily-fluxuating basketball biorhythm stayed high. His defense was solid for most of the night (Myers Leonard of all people torched him late), he hit his first career three, and he finished with a team high rebounds. One note - when Willie was pulled in the 2nd quarter with 3 minutes left and was replaced by Kosta Koufus (for a Randolph/Kosta lineup that stayed the rest of the half), the Blazers lead was 42-36. When he reentered 3 minutes into the third, that lead had ballooned to 62-43.
- Skal Labissiere was a dismal 0-8 from the field. Skal missed some shots he’d normal make, but he (and the rest of the Kings bigs) continued to showcase the “pass up open shots for contested closer shots” plan of attack. With minimal success against the Blazers bigs, Skal didn’t earn his minutes tonight. Combined with George Hill (12 and 4 assists) and Garret Temple (0 points on 0-9 shooting), the Kings had three starters combine to shoot 5-28 in 69 minutes.
- It’s easy to be annoyed with Dave Joerger’s rotations, but the development of the Kings rookies in their big pre-draft weaknesses is very encouraging. De’Aaron Fox’s shot is clicking (he made multiple outside jumpers with one three), Justin Jackson (didn’t play) has been a very solid defender, and Frank Mason went from a low-volume/poor-success shooter at the rim (37% of his shots were at the rim last year, and he shot 49% - both low for a high volume attack guard) to making multiple contested layups. The development of the rookies in key areas is very apparent and welcome in this rebuilding year.