In the season opener against Phoenix, the Kings came out in the second half with a 17 point display in the third. They allowed the Suns to score 32 and with turnover after turnover, the game was well out of reach. The Kings started much better today against a stronger Portland side who were coming off a loss against Denver and were even at the half. But another sloppy third quarter performance that saw Portland go on a 12-0 run followed by a 15-2 run kept Sacramento from coming back as the home opener ends in a loss. Sacramento is now 0-2.
The Kings began the game with more energy and effort than the display against Phoenix. They got stops on defense and did what they do best - run in transition. De’Aaron Fox matched his point total against Phoenix in one quarter, scoring eight points with three assists but picked up two fouls. Dewayne Dedmon missed two three pointers, but finished well down low and grabbed six rebounds. Damian Lillard led his team with eight points on 4-9 shooting as the Kings held a 27-25 lead after one.
Both teams went back and forth in the second but Sacramento took a minor lead thanks to Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic drilling tough three pointers. However, the Kings didn’t close out the quarter strong which led to a 12-5 Portland run. Dedmon turned the ball over multiple times in a row and made a bad foul on Lillard to aid Portland. Sacramento ended the half 10-19 from deep with Bogi going 3-3, Fox 3-4 and Hield 2-5. Fox led the team with 14 points, Bogi added 13 off the bench and Hield had 12. Lillard still led his squad with 14 points on 6-11 shooting and youngster Anfernee Simons chipped in a good 12 points off the bench showing off his beautiful release. The half ended even at 57 each.
Portland came out blazing in the third with a 12-0 run but the Kings responded with Fox leading the way. Hield made a three that decided to hop around the rim before falling in and Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes each hammered down putback dunks that got the crowd roaring. But the Blazers answered with another 15-2 run that saw them boost their lead to 90-76 with less than two minutes remaining. Sacramento still trailed 94-84 at the end of three. Fox, Bogi and Hield still led the Kings in scoring with 22, 16 and 15 respectively. Holmes provided eight points and six rebounds, but five personal fouls sent him back to the bench. Dedmon had six points and eight rebounds but he also racked up five fouls that made Bjelica enter at center. Hassan Whiteside came up to 22 points on 9-10 shooting and nine rebounds to match Lillard’s 22 points.
Whistles galore in the fourth quarter as the refs blew a whistle on almost every single possession. Dame Time propelled his team to a strong quarter, nailing two threes from the logo among other baskets. CJ McCollum picked up some momentum in what was mostly a quiet game from him. Luke Walton eventually cleared the bench after Fox took a hard foul from Rodney Hood and that wrapped up the game.
De’Aaron Fox: Played more aggressive on both ends and attempted to put the team on his back. Finished with 28 points, five assists and six rebounds on 7-18 shooting and 3-5 from three. He also converted 11-14 free throws.
Buddy Hield: Another 20 point performance but his three ball didn’t fall as good as he would’ve liked at a 4-11 mark. Like Fox, Hield was 7-18 from the field for 21 points and five rebounds.
Bogdan Bogdanovic: Shot much better than his 1-10 game against Phoenix and went 4-6 from three tonight. Finished with 16 points, three assists and three steals.
Harrison Barnes: Solid on both ends with 13 points on 5-10 shooting with five rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Richaun Holmes: 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes. Constant energy on both ends of the floor could see him gradually earn more minutes.
Sacramento made 23 of 27 free throws, good for 85%. They need to maintain that level throughout the season.
The Kings were also 15-37 from three, good for 40.5%. Some went in-and-out as well.
After 27 turnovers in game one, they cut that mark down by ten with 17 tonight. They made some sloppy passes frequently that can get cleaned up.
Sacramento also won the rebound battle 43-40 and the fast break battle 10-4. The Suns had killed them in transition on Wednesday.
The Kings travel to Utah to take on the Jazz tomorrow at 6 p.m. PST. Both teams will be traveling on a back-to-back and last year, Sacramento struggled mightily on SEGABABA’s. Tomorrow is the first test to see if they have improved.