Media Row Report: Kings 96, Blazers 81

I'll spare you the details, but it's been a fairly disgusting 48 hours for me health-wise. And that was before I watched the Portland Trail Blazers shoot 39.5% from the field in a 96-81 home loss to the Sacramento Kings. Zing.

On Saturday, I noted that the slow starts were going to catch up to the Blazers eventually, and that more or less happened tonight. A slow start turned into a slower start of the second quarter which dragged into a fairly slow third quarter which imploded to a very difficult-to-watch fourth quarter. Turnovers, missed shots, tons of errant point blank attempts and an off-night from LaMarcus Aldridge combined to make this a forgettable and frustrating night for the Blazers.

Not enough offense, not enough defense and not enough energy. More on this one tomorrow, after a good night's rest and some bleach for the eyeballs.

Random Game Notes

  • Video: Dante Cunningham put on a show on both ends.
  • Omri Casspi got Joel Przybilla pretty good.
  • Brandon Roy revealed that he underwent PRP treatment on both of his knees during his recent arthroscopic knee surgeries.
  • Aldridge finished with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists, his lowest scoring output since Dec. 5.
  • During the first half, the game ops people displayed a "Welcome to Portland, Chris Johnson" on the jumbotron and then cut to video of Elliot Williams. They did a take-two during the next timeout and got it right, and the crowd gave him a nice applause. 
  • Recently a website calculated the BMI of every NBA player and Corey Brewer was determined to be the skinniest. I am dead certain Johnson is skinnier.
  • Michael Jordan was in the house tonight. Biggest celebrity at the Rose Garden since I started covering the team? Can't think of a bigger one, except maybe when that one Baldwin brother showed up rocking a Juwan Howard jersey. Jordan got a ton of cheers and some fans stood up to clap for him. 
  • Did I miss a memo on a protest movement that involves not standing for the National Anthem? Multiple groups of people at the Rose Garden simply sat during the National Anthem tonight. Can't recall seeing that very often or in such numbers. Anyone know?
  • The Sean Marks highlight of the night is user-submitted tonight and occurred during pre-game warm-ups: "Sean Marks just got hit in the head with a ball. It was pretty funny. Dante was cracking up." Thanks @krizzikinz.

Nate McMillan's Post-Game Comments

How much was the Kings and how much was the Blazers?

It was both. It was the Kings but it was certainly us. It just didn't seem like we came with that edge that we've been playing with here lately. The sharpness, 19 turnovers for 31 points, that's going to just about kill you every time. Second opportunities, 16 offensive boards, and then we shoot 39% from the floor. That edge, staying hungry, which we've shown here recently. It just didn't seem like we've had that, played as if we could flip a switch here. That team got their confidence, they've played in a lot of close games, we got on our heels and just didn't have sharpness tonight.

Any changes to how they defended Aldridge?

Yeah, they did. They didn't double team as much. They pretty much were scoring, one, and getting back on defense or able to get back and set their defense, but they didn't double-team. We only had three opportunities from the three-point line early in the game. But they pretty much played him straight up with Dalembert and made him score over the top of Dalembert.

Dalembert's defense

He's long. We tried to run some things to move LA around, to get them to switch, the pick and rolls, bring him out away from the basket. He covered not only LA but a couple of times he went to the basket and he defended the basket also tonight. What, four block shots? He basically had a big presence on the defensive end of the floor.

Do you think you guys took this game as a given?

We worked and we talked about that. No game is a given. You never approach a game like that. Sometimes you can mentally have letdowns. That happens but we're not in a position to approach a game like that and whatever it is you have to mentally have yourself ready, whether you've won five games in a row or a team you're playing is under .500. You know, dealing with success, you have to learn how to deal with that just as you do adversity. Tonight we just, that edge, we didn't play with that edge tonight.

Why so many turnovers?

I thought it was at times trying to force some things, trying to do too much. As good as we were last game we were bad taking care of the ball tonight. A number of guys -- it's not... we had six guys with two or more turnovers. It was a team effort in that department.

Andre's status

He's a little weak but you're out there playing. You've got to be ready to go.

Slow starts

I thought, defensively, we didn't get up and establish how we were going to play the game defensively or the offensive end of the floor. What I mean by that, defensively I counted the first couple of possessions, they swung the ball from side to side to side without any pressure. And all of a sudden you're going to try to flip the switch when you're behind. Offensively, hard cuts, set your screens, move the ball. We only had seven free throws at the half and 11 for the game. There was nothing as far as attacking the basket, post-ups or penetration. We made it a jump-shooting contest.

Slow starts a long-term issue?

Yeah, well, it is tonight after you drop one. We've been able to recover from that. I don't think you necessarily win a game or lose a game in the first quarter. We've gotten off to great starts and have dropped them. But I think establishing how you're going to play, your sharpness both ways, is important.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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