The Blazers’ 82 points are the fewest the team has scored so far this season and coupled with a miserable 37% shooting performance continues to raise serious concerns about the current state of the offense.
To call it a sluggish start would be generous to the Blazers, who struggled on offense most of the night and due to that earned themselves a tough 48-minute grind with one of the bottom teams in the league.
Credit to the Kings, which just got blown out by 46 points on its home court to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, looked determined to not be embarrassed by Portland. Both teams hovered around the sub-40% shooting mark but showed some grit on the defensive end, making for a tight, albeit low scoring wire-to-wire contest. Sacramento led at times by as much as eight, but for the most part the deficit remained within just one or two possessions.
Damian Lillard was about the only Blazer to get it going, scoring 16 of Portland’s paltry 41 points in the first half and leading all scorers with 29 points. Lillard was behind just about everything that went well for the Blazers, but couldn’t quite find a way to will Portland to victory. His pull-up three with 10 seconds remaining had the chance to perhaps send the game to overtime but hit just off the back iron.
Beyond Dame, it was slim pickings for remainder of the offense. Jusuf Nurkic got into foul trouble early and in turn lost all of his rhythm, finishing with just 4 points and 7 boards in 27 minutes.
CJ McCollum, who has been red hot from behind the arc as of late, cooled off a bit Friday, missing all four of his attempts from deep although he still did chip in 19 points. In fact, Portland as a whole struggled mightily with the long ball, going only 4-14 from downtown while the Kings hounded Blazer shooters all night.
No other Blazers reached double figures.
Instead the spotlight was dominated by Willie Cauley-Stein, who manhandled Portland on his way to 22 points and 10 boards coming off the bench for Sacramento and was key during the decisive final frame.
Portland had a few chances to salvage a win down the stretch - a Shabazz Napier three with about two minutes to go pulled the Blazers within three at 78-81 - but there wasn’t enough magic to pull off the comeback.
The Blazers will return to the Moda Center to complete the second half of the home-and-home back-to-back with the Kings tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.