According to head coach Dave Joerger, first the Kings have to learn to compete and then they have to learn how to win. They are competing on most nights, but they are struggling to figure out how to close games out and come away with the victory.
After trailing big early, the Kings made an impressive run Friday night in Portland, even pushing the game to overtime. But in the end, it wasn’t enough as the Kings fell for the seventh straight time to the Blazers, this time by a final of 122-120.
All-Star Damian Lillard led the way for the Trail Blazers in their victory. The 26-year-old point guard found his rhythm late, torching the Kings for 36 points on 12-of-19 from the field and 5-for-10 from downtown.
High scoring C.J. McCollum caught fire early and often, posting 31 points on 13-for-24 shooting and chipped in five assists in the win.
Allen Crabbe added 15 off Terry Stotts bench and three other Blazers scored eight or more in the win.
For the first time this season, the Kings had their big three of DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Darren Collison firing on all cylinders.
Gay used his length and athleticism to take the Blazers to the rack. The 11-year veteran finished the night with 29 points on 9-for-17 shooting and stuffed the stat sheet with 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
The Blazers tried to get physical with Cousins, but it didn’t quite work out the way they hoped. Sacramento’s star center posted 33 points on 12-for-22 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
In his third game back from suspension, Collison went off for 20 points and five rebounds in 37 minutes off the Kings bench.
Arron Afflalo added 15 points and Kosta Koufos hit for 10 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes.
Gay was exceptional. Cousins was a force to be reckoned with. Lillard and McCollum were off the hook. The stars came out Friday night in Portland.
The Kings had a shot to tie the game in the overtime session with a tough fallaway jumper as time expired. It didn’t fall and the Kings lost for the second straight game.
Cousins tweaked his right hip in the first quarter, but remained in the game and finished with a big night.
After playing 11 games in 17 nights, the Kings have a four-day break to work on their game. They return to action Wednesday to face the San Antonio Spurs at the Golden 1 Center.