SACRAMENTO -- The short-handed Kings return to action Friday night, hosting the Portland Trail Blazers at Golden 1 Center the day after the NBA’s trade deadline.
Gone are George Hill, Malachi Richardson and Georgios Papagiannis. Hill was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday for a package including veterans Joe Johnson and Iman Shumpert. Richardson was dealt to the Toronto Raptors for seldom used Bruno Caboclo and Papagiannis was waived to make room for the incoming veterans.
After dropping three straight, the Blazers are coming off an overtime win on their home floor over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday evening. All five of their starters played 31 minutes or more, including 40-plus for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Blazers by 5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
De’Aaron Fox vs. Damian Lillard -- It’s your show kid. With Hill out of the picture, Fox will get an opportunity to run the team on his own for the remainder of the season. He’s shown major signs of growth in the last five weeks, but he’ll need to continue to shine if Sacramento has a chance to pick up a few more wins. Lillard is a 3-time All-Star having another big season for the Blazers. He’s poting 25 points per game while averaging 8.1 3-point attempts a night.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 17-36, fourth place in Pacific
Blazers: 30-25, third place in Northwest
Kings: PG De’Aaron Fox (ankle) probable, SG/SF Garrett Temple (oral surgery) probable, PF Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain) out until after the All-Star break, PG Frank Mason (plantar fascia tear right heel) out until after the All-Star break, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season. Iman Shumpert, Joe Johnson and Bruno Caboclo are not cleared to suit up yet after being acquired via trade on Thursday.
Blazers: G C.J. Wilcox (knee) out.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Moving On -- The trade deadline is tough, especially for a young team. Friends are traded, new faces are filling their locker stalls. It’s an awkward time. The Kings have to focus on the task at hand and forget the distractions.
Defend the Perimeter -- It’s no secret that the Blazers boast two of the best shooting guards in the league. If the Kings don’t stick with Lillard and McCollum, it’s going to be a very long evening. The duo combine to score 46.8 points per game, making them a lethal combination from the outside.
Play Tough -- Jusuf Nurkic loves to play rough in the post and the Kings need to respond. If the regulars can’t get it done, Sacramento has a secret weapon in two-way player Jack Cooley waiting to come in and mix it up.
The season between these two teams is all knotted at 1-1 after a home-and-home back-to-back on Nov. 17-18. The Blazers lead the all-time series 130-78 and they own the Kings during the Sacramento-era 89-47.