Top 5 takeaways from Kings preseason opener win vs Blazers
Kings rally for wild OT win
The Kings showed fight and a will to win in their first preseason game of the 2015-16 season. Down by double figures for much of the game, Sacramento clawed back on the road and beat the Trail Blazers 109-105 in overtime on Monday night. Insider James Ham breaks down his top five takeaways from the victory...
1.) Improved bench shines
The Kings have a bench. After 32 points from Marco Belinelli and a 21-point, 10-assist night for Darren Collison, fans are already clamoring for change in the starting lineup. Instead, they should be rejoicing that the Kings survived a night in which Rajon Rondo, Ben McLemore and Rudy Gay scored a combined 10 points on 4-of-20 shooting. The Kings bench dropped in 65 points and were the reason the team won the game.
2.) Willie Cauley-Stein shows flashes
A winded Willie Cauley-Stein is better than no Willie Cauley-Stein. His numbers weren’t gaudy, but the rookie big man is a disruptive force. Cauley-Stein finished with six points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in 21 minutes of action. Sacramento needs a defensive presence, especially when they turn to their bench. Count on many games like this one out of the 22-year-old Kentucky product.
3.) Can't stop Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins is still really good. Portland has a young, athletic frontline, but you need more than that to stop a big like Cousins. He finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes. The All-Star center looks to be near midseason form early in the preseason, which is music to George Karl’s ears.
4.) Large and in charge
Cousins and Koufos are an interesting pairing. Karl went with two really big bigs to open the preseason schedule and clearly it was by design. The duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Kosta Koufos combined to score 34 points and grab 15 rebounds in 55 total minutes, but they allowed Meyers Leonard to find a groove on the perimeter. Someone will have to guard stretch fours once the regular season begins and game one didn’t answer that question.
5.) Finding chemistry
Chemistry will take time. While the Kings came away with the win, Karl won’t be buying many ice creams after this game. The team turned the ball over 23 times and for long stretches looked very much like a group that has never played together. Karl went with an 11 man rotation and six of those players are new to the club. There is no need for a knee jerk reaction after one preseason game. This team has plenty of time to gel.