SACRAMENTO -- Who broke the Kings?
After a strong start to the season, Sacramento came into Saturday’s back-to-back with four losses in the last five games. Once again, the Kings struggled on the defensive end and when the shots wouldn’t fall, it was lights out early.
The Portland Trail Blazers were the aggressors on both ends of the court, coming away with the wire-to-wire 125-99 win at Golden 1 Center on Saturday night. The Kings allowed at least 100 points for the 10th straight game, and at least 124 for the fourth consecutive contest.
Here are three takeaways as the Kings got outplayed again on their home court to fall to 4-6 on the season.
For the fourth straight game, the Kings allowed an opposing guard to score 30 or more points. This time it was CJ McCollum who went off against Sacramento’s defense, finishing with 37 points in just 29 minutes of play.
This isn’t all on the Kings’ guards. Sacramento’s switching defense remains a work in progress. Teams are using screens to isolate the Kings’ bigs against opposing guards, and they are feasting.
With limited practice time, coach Luke Walton and his staff need to figure out a way to make adjustments. A few players might need to watch if they can’t figure out how to keep their man in front of them.
Buddy Hield got his wish during the offseason and is back in the starting lineup. How long he’ll keep that spot might be the biggest question Walton faces at this point of the season.
In his first season of a four-year, $86 million contract, Hield is struggling badly. His patente 3-point shot is off the mark, and he looks completely out of sorts on both ends of the court.
Hield finished with eight points on 2-of-8 shooting from 3-point range Saturday. After averaging 19.2 points per game last season, Hield has scored 20 or more just once so far this season.
With rookie Tyrese Haliburton playing like a 10-year NBA veteran and providing the Kings both an extra ball handler and a defensive presence, Walton has to be considering a switch.
Richaun Missed the game with an ankle injury, so Haliburton made his first career NBA start. The rookie played well, despite the lopsided loss.
Haliburton worked to get his teammates involved early, taking just two shots in the first half. With the Kings getting blown out, he made things interesting with an offensive outburst in the late third and early fourth quarters.
The 20-year-old finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting and he chipped in a team-high eight assists. He created for his teammates and easily could have finished in double-figures in dimes, but his team struggled to get open looks to fall.