Sacramento, CA – The passion and dedication in being great has finally set in. The new and improved Kings have every right to be upset. They are one game out of the eighth spot, a position they’ve not been in for years. Yes, there’s a lot of basketball left in this season but the goal is to finish the year strong.
Sacramento ended their three-game wining streak after losing 98-94 to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Kings fall 12-18 overall, and 8-8 at home. But this still leaves them one game behind the Utah Jazz for that 8th Western Conference spot. A goal that everyone wants especially heading into the new year.
The reality is consistency and that wasn’t displayed last night. Sacramento turned the ball over 23 times, 13 coming in the first half. The Trail Blazers scored 28 points off the turnovers, just shy of the season high of 29, twice. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 36 points and 6 rebounds while Rajan Rondo dished out 15 assists, marking the 7th time this season.
“On our home court, fundamentally, we gave up the turnovers and the rebound. That’s a nightmare,” said head coach George Karl, who ended his press conference quickly and departed with, “I’m done. I’m frustrated.”
The Kings missed 19 of 22 shots in the fourth and had five turnovers. Cousins cut the lead to 95-92 with a 3-pointer with 24 seconds but Portland made three free throws in the final 20 seconds to secure their win. The Trail Blazers outscored the Kings 18-14 in the fourth. Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts praised his team for lack of turnovers pre-game.
“Against the Cavs we went an entire half with no turnovers, and it has been a vocal point for us,” Stotts said. “We had two good defensive games in a row, that’s encouraging. Obviously, CJ had a terrific performance offensively. But it was on the heels of the Cleveland game it was really a solid road win.”
CJ McCollum had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists to lead the Trail Blazers. Back up to starting point guard Damon Lillard who missed his fourth straight game with a plantar fasciitis injury. McCollum has put up big numbers in place of Lillard and has averaged 20 points per game while shooting 40 percent from the 3-point arc.
“We were trying to get different looks, but they did a good job of containing DeMarcus (2 of 9 in the fourth quarter) and staying out of fouls,” said Omri Casspi. “It’s just really a game that we should’ve won.”
Tonight Sacramento will play the Warriors at Oracle Arena and this will be the first time, Cousins will be in the lineup against Golden State this season. The Kings wanted to maintain their winning streak but understand it’s one loss that can be made up along the way. In the meantime, they’ll be facing the best team in the NBA.
“We came in here and lost a game we thought we should have won,” said Rudy Gay. “It happens I guess. We’ve got a game tomorrow – if we win that one, this one doesn’t even matter.”