Game 43 Preview: Trail Blazers vs. Kings

Game Time:  7:00 p.m.  TV:  CSNNW

With a record of 9-30 the Sacramento Kings have embraced the rallying cry, "12.5% More Wins than Cleveland!"  (They also have 2 fewer losses!)  Modest goals are the most achievable and expectations for the Kings this year are definitely modest.   They've had one win against a team with a current winning record, that coming January 6th against the Denver Nuggets.  Other than that brief, shining moment their season has been a bucketful of suck punctuated by the occasional brilliant performance from hybrid guard Tyreke Evans.  Even so, a combination of ankle trouble and no help from his teammates has conspired to keep Evans averaging 3 fewer points per game on a field goal percentage more than 6% lower than last season, below the .400 mark.  If he's not playing well the Kings don't have a chance.

Point guard Beno Udrih is the second leading scorer on Sacramento's roster, averaging 14 per game.  With a .500+ shooting percentage he holds the distinction of being the only King who can hit a jumper.  His defense is as porous as Spongebob's undies and his assist total is kept low by, well, none of his teammates being able to hit a jumper.  (That and Evans likes the ball in his hands.)  After the two guards the Kings try to win with a bunch of power forwards.  6'11" Jason Thompson is slightly displaced starting at center.  He doesn't get a ton of shots but he rebounds well.  Rookie DeMarcus Cousins holds the actual power forward position.  He tends to get into foul trouble and doesn't know a good shot from a bad but he can explode on you.  Veteran Carl Landry comes off the bench to score in the post and rebound.  Philly transplant Samuel Delambert rounds out a deep big man rotation.  He may be the most consistent rebounder of them all and he's the only shot-blocker.  Cast-offs make up most of the rest of the roster:  Francisco Garcia, Luther Head, Donte Green.  Small forward Omri Casspi provides the only consistent three-point support the roster gets.

The Kings have serious trouble scoring.  If it's not close and/or on the run they probably can't hit it.  They haunt the lower reaches of the league in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and effective field goal percentage.  They rely heavily on fast-break points and offensive rebounds.  Sadly they allow more fast break points and points in the paint than they score and give up 3 percentage points on the field goal percentage margin.  They commit and force a bunch of turnovers to add crazy spice to the game, but outside of the occasional stellar individual performance that's about the only consistent excitement you're going to see out of Kings basketball.

The issue for the Blazers tonight will be the same as always in this run against sub-par teams:  effort.  Get back in transition and keep the Kings off of the offensive boards and they'll not score enough to beat you.  Even if the Blazers have an off-night offensively going up against Udrih on the outside and a near-complete lack of shot-blocking inside should allow easy attempts.  Evans is often a headache for Portland but he alone shouldn't be enough to make a difference.  Let Landry and Thompson go crazy on the boards, though, and Evans' damage looks worse.  Still, if this isn't a cakewalk Portland did something wrong.

Listen, if you want to see a true archetype of online journalism head over to Sactown Royalty and poke around.

You can enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com) 

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