Kings Again Have Portland's Number
By mikebarrett Posted in: Kings
There are a ton of excuses to toss out there after losses like this. We touched on a few of the factors during the broadcast of this game, but it doesn’t change anything. The Kings beat the Trail Blazers again, and with the victory, snapped Portland’s five-game winning streak and sent the Blazers into Christmas with a loss.
But, given what transpired on the recent six-game homestand, it’s still tough to feel too badly about where this team is right now. Being 13-13 would perhaps be disappointing in another season, but it’s certainly acceptable, at least in my mind, right now. I can say that because I’m not a player or a coach.
Some of the things you can get away with at home you can’t get away with on the road. Portland’s turnover total was the only thing that kept Phoenix in the game on Saturday night, and in this game, away from the cozy confines of the Rose Garden, they were a big part of Portland’s undoing.
During the homestand the Trail Blazers were able to survive with a shorthanded roster. But, Wesley Matthews was badly missed in this game against Sacramento. The Blazers always ride their starters hard, as you know, but on a second of a back to back, even if it is against the Kings, you can only go to that well so often before it comes back to bite you.
The Kings were playing without DeMarcus Cousins and without Tyreke Evans. As I always say, I’d much rather play a team at full strength than one that’s missing a centerpiece of its offense. That sounds strange, but it’s so often the case. It enters into a game an “x factor” and the unknown is tough to game plan for.
We wondered, before the game, if the Kings aren’t better without Cousins, who is talented, but is like a sponge inside the lane in their offense. He’s a bulk shooter and dominates the ball. In this game we saw a Kings team that moved well without the ball, shared shots, and played with a belief. Yes, Portland’s defensive struggles had a lot to do with this, but I think Sacramento would win as many games without Cousins as they would with him. Perhaps that’ll be put to the test in the near future.
Sacramento shot a scorching 56% against the Trail Blazers on Sunday, and dished out a season-high 31 assists. This is a team that’s dead last in the NBA in assists normally.
It also seems like in the NBA you can run into bad matchups. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Maybe that’s too simple, but it makes losses like this easier to explain.
The Trail Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and also by J.J. Hickson who had yet another double-double. Hickson finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and extended his streak to 8-straight games in double figures in those catagories.
The backcourt did miss Matthews badly, but still got 17 points and 8 assists from Nic Batum. Damian Lillard also had solid numbers, scoring 15 points and dishing out 7 assists.
It’s odd how it works at times in the NBA, but Portland’s last two losses have now come at the hands of the Kings. Sandwiched in between the losses was a stretch of five-straight wins.
And, the Blazers will get an immediate shot at redemption, again, against this Sacramento team. The two teams will wrap up their four-game season series on Wednesday night at the Rose Garden. Hopefully Matthews will make his return to the Blazers’ lineup.
You can add your thoughts below, as always.
We’re so fortunate to be heading home for Christmas. At times the schedule can be brutal, and it’s no fun to be away from loved ones at this time of year.
Thanks to you all for your continued support and participation. There’s no place like Portland, and even though it’s cliché, we’ve got the best fans in the NBA. Love to you all, and have a very good Christmas. We’ll talk to you again on Wednesday from the Rose Garden.