The Sacramento Kings came into Monday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers as heavy underdogs. They played (and won) the previous night, and the team chose to rest DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo. Perhaps the unusual lineup changes would play to their advantage? Not Monday. The Blazers opened hot from three-point land, and once their defense picked up, Sacramento had no answers. They found themselves buried by the Blazer offense in the third quarter, and watched the deep benches finish the game. The garbage-time-aided final score was not reflective of the blowout experience.
The Blazers spread the scoring around, with solid nights from CJ McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Damian Lillard, Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless.
The first quarter was all about Moe Harkless and three-pointers. Portland opened with three straight three-point plays. one from McCollum, and two from Aminu. But Portland's defense couldn't stop the Kings, who scored nearly at will to keep things close. But that couldn't prevent the Blazers three-pointer onslaught. McCollum. Harkless. McCollum. Lillard. Crabbe. Every Blazer seemed to get into it, as Portland shot 7-9 from downtown in the opening quarter. The Kings were able to keep the score close, but it never really felt like they had a chance to take control. They were simply keeping things close. The Blazer defense gave up 32 points to the depleted Kings squad, and that needed to be cleaned up.
End of First: Portland 37, Sacramento 32
More of the same in the second quarter, as the Blazers' bench fairly effortlessly hold off the Kings' attempts to close the gap. Allen Crabbe's three-pointer pushed the lead to double-figures, forcing a Kings timeout. The Blazers started to cool, but the Kings really couldn't warm up, and by the 6 minute mark the lead was extended to 13 thanks to an Ed Davis tip-in and a couple McCollum free throws. After another timeout, a Noah Vonleh up-and-under lay-in made the lead 15. And in more bad news for the Kings, Lillard checked back into the game. However, he had consecutive turnovers, and a Kings three-pointer cut things back to 11. The lead bounced around the lower teens, as the Blazers' sloppiness prevented them from pulling away. When another turnover led to an easy fast-break two for the Kings, Terry Stotts called a timeout. The Kings picked up the defense afterward, but got burned by an Aminu three-pointer. The Blazers took advantage of the D on two more consecutive possessions, as Plumlee scored on two straight shots at the hoop. Sacramento only scored 20 in the second quarter, and Portland finished the half with a nice, comfortable lead.
Halftime: Portland 68, Sacramento 52
The second half opened with Aminu missing a three, and Curry hitting one. But the third quarter turned into a grind for both teams, as Aminu and McCollum kept the Kings at arm's length. Lillard's free throws pushed the lead to 17, and followed it up with an elbow jumper to make it 19. Harkless-to-Plumlee-to-McCollum for an open three? 22 point lead, and a George Karl timeout. Afterward, the Kings missed a jumper, and Lillard laid a sweet pass into Plumlee for a reverse dunk. The Blazers finally came up empty on a few possessions, but Sacramento couldn't capitalize. Suddenly, the lead was 26, and the rout was underway. Sacramento's remaining players gave it their all, but it was the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, against a team that was clearly more talented. The quarter closed with Lillard blocking Curry, and Crabbe hitting a jumper to the crowd's delight.
End of Third: Portland 91, Sacramento 63
Garbage time began simultaneously with the fourth quarter game clock. Four minutes into the quarter, Sacramento had outscored Portland 5-1, forcing a timeout. The benches emptied, and the kids got to see the kids (Cliff Alexander and Luis Montero) get some minutes on the court. Chris Kaman missed out on the festivities while under the weather. It was a fun night for everyone not named after royalty.
Two more full days off in the luxury of their own beds for the Blazers. They play the Boston Celtics Thursday night. And for this game, some perspective from Dave Deckard's night at the Moda Center for Blazers Edge Kids Night, 2016 edition.