Kings

Instant Replay: Kings battle Blazers into overtime, but fall short

Instant Replay: Kings battle Blazers into overtime, but fall short

BOX SCORE

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.

STANDOUT PERFORMER 

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.

TURNING POINT 

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.

INJURY UPDATE 

Cousins tweaked his right hip in the first quarter, but remained in the game and finished with a big night.

WHAT'S NEXT 

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. 

Kings notes: De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield flash skills in loss to Rockets

Kings notes: De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield flash skills in loss to Rockets

It was a track meet from the opening tip Saturday night in Houston. The Rockets looked like an inspired team after a rough start to the season, running over the Kings over for a 132-112 win

Houston rained down 3-pointers at a startling clip, and when it wasn't burying the 3-ball, it was finishing at the rim. James Harden dropped in a game-high 34 points, and Chris Paul added 24 points and nine assists in the Rockets' win.

The Kings had plenty of chances, but their inability to slow the Rockets' offense cost them any chance at a win.

Here are six notes as the Kings fell back to .500 on the season at 8-8.

Buddy scores

After failing to reach the 20-point plateau for four consecutive games, Buddy Hield found the basket against Houston. The third-year guard posted 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go with seven rebounds and two assists.

Hield has taken a few games to adjust to Bogdan Bogdanovic's return, but the Kings' second-leading scorer should be just fine.

How good is Fox? 

In his second season, De’Aaron Fox has put the NBA on notice. Not only is he a Most Improved Player candidate, he should be in the discussion for an All-Star bid.

Against a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul, Fox finished with 19 points and three assists in 25 minutes of play. He can’t control whether his teammates hit open jumpers, but if he’s playing 36 minutes per night, the Kentucky product is putting up nearly 21 points and eight assists.

Bogdan impactful

Bogdanovic completed the second biggest step in his recovery from offseason knee issues. First, he made his way back to the court. On Saturday, he completed his first back-to-back and should be cleared for regular duty ASAP.

The Serbian-born wing finished Saturday's game with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting and added five assists in the loss. He’s ready for stage three, which is returning to the Kings' starting lineup.

Play me

Marvin Bagley struggled against the Grizzlies and clearly was outplayed by fellow rookie Jaren Jackson. Bagley had a bounce-back game in Houston, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.

[RELATED: Kings deny report that coach Joerger, front office have disconnect]

Bagley is a talent, but he needs time to figure out the defensive end. There will be a point this season when he jumps ahead of Nemanja Bjelica in the Kings' starting rotation, but he first needs to show activity on both ends of the floor.  

The disappearance of Willie Cauley-Stein 

If nothing else, Cauley-Stein has been consistent this season. Often times, he’s been extraordinary. Against Clint Capela, Cauley-Stein was less than serviceable.

Cauley-Stein shot 1 of 9 from the field and finished with three points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. It’s possible he was winded on the second night of a back-to-back, but he can’t have nights like this if he hopes to cash in this summer.

Play some D 

The Kings struggled to contain the Rockets from the early stages of the game. In the end, Sacramento couldn’t stop penetration, struggled with the pick-and-roll and allowed Houston to shoot as many 3-pointers as it could muster.

The Kings gave up 132 points on 56.8 percent shooting, and allowed the Rockets to hit 20 of 47 from long range. It’s hard to stay in a game when your opponent outscores you 60-33 on 3-pointers. Sacramento's defense has to get better, especially against top-tier teams.

Kings coach Dave Joerger sidesteps Yahoo report about his job status

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AP

Kings coach Dave Joerger sidesteps Yahoo report about his job status

Dave Joerger wasn't in a mood to talk about his job status moments after his Kings lost to the Rockets on Saturday night.

Asked by reporters about a Yahoo Sports story claiming "substantial disconnect" between him and the Kings' front office, Joerger tried to deflect the question back to basketball.

"Well, usually, I would say, 'I'd be happy to answer all your questions about tonight's game,' but in this case, I'm going to tell you that my focus is with our team," Joerger said. "And coaching our team and getting better every single night. And we've got young guys, and they're mixed with older guys, and go in there and rally them up.

“This is a tough five-game stretch for us, so I want to make sure we stick together, grab onto each other ..."

Pressed on the reported disconnect, Joerger refused to address it.

"I'm not going to get into that stuff," the coach said before exiting the scrum after no other questions were asked.

The Yahoo story came out about 30 minutes before the Kings and Rockets tipped off in Houston. During the game, Kings general manager Vlade Divac issued a statement to NBC Sports California's James Ham and denied there was any issues between Joerger and the front office.

"Dave has our full support and confidence,” Divac said in the statement. “We continue to work together to develop our young core and compete.”