When you are the Sacramento Kings, you don’t have the luxury of overlooking any team, especially a wounded group like the Portland Trail Blazers. Sacramento waltzed into the Moda Center looking for their fifth straight win Wednesday night and they came away with a 102-89 loss to a short-handed Blazers team.
“It was a game that we wanted and it’s a good learning experience for our guys,” coach Dave Joerger told the media following the game.
Sacramento has had plenty of ups and downs early in the season, but their climb back towards .500 was impressive. They took a step back against Portland, but the demeanor of this team continues to stand out.
“This is the NBA, we weren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the season,” DeMarcus Cousins said with a smile during post game. “That’s not even realistic.”
Sacramento struggled to find a rhythm, hitting just 31-of-79 (39.2 percent) from the field and 9-for-28 from 3-point range. They had plenty of wide open shots and couldn’t knock them down.
“The offense was stagnant at times and then when we were behind, we tried to make a 14 point shot,” Dave Joerger said. “At one point in the quarter, we got nine stops out of ten possessions and we took three one pass jumpers.”
Portland had no problem finding the net, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and a stellar 12-of-25 from three. Led by the sharpshooting C.J. McCollum, who finished the night with a team-high 20 points, Portland led by as many as 20 and never really let the Kings get within striking distance late.
“We weren’t physical enough with them, we played too soft, especially early on,” Garrett Temple told reporters in the locker room. “And they were able to knock down some shots.”
Six Blazers scored in double-figures as they turned to a team game to replace injured All-Star Damian Lillard’s 27 points per game.
“The shots won’t fall all the time, but you have to be able to compete and play hard on defense every possession,” Temple said. “If they were making tough shots, then it is what it is. But they were getting a lot of easy shots.”
While Portland was busy running their offense, Sacramento rushed their shots and the movement on the court all but stopped.
With Rudy Gay missing his seventh game in eight opportunities, the Kings needed someone to take up the scoring slack next to Cousins. Temple stepped forward to score 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting while providing solid defense against the Blazers wings.
Cousins went off for his customary 28-points, eight-rebounds, six-assist night, but Portland made life difficult on the Kings’ star center. Cousins shot just 8-for-19 from the field, although he hit an impressive 3-of-6 from long range.
“They really focused in on me,” Cousins told media members from his locker stall. “You could tell their game plan was to make everybody else have big games instead of myself. It was successful tonight -- it worked.”
In addition to Temple and Cousins, Matt Barnes added 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but Joerger needed more from his role players.
The point guard combination of Ty Lawson and Darren Collison scored just 14 total points on 4-for-15 shooting. Ben McLemore shot 2-of-9 from the field and Anthony Tolliver hit 1-for-6. It was a rough shooting night for Sacramento, but those game happen during an 82 game schedule.
The Kings return home where they will practice Thursday and possibly Friday leading up to Saturday’s mid-day game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Golden 1 Center.
They travel to Denver to face the Nuggets on Tuesday before settling in for seven straight at home beginning Wednesday against the Miami Heat.