On Blazer’s Edge Kids night, the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers stayed close to the Sacramento Kings for the first half. The second half was a very different story, with the Kings dominating Portland for an easy 120-80 victory. Shaedon Sharpe didn’t leave the kids too disappointed, though, opening up the highlight reel multiple times on his way to a 30 point night.
Neither team impressed at the start. Portland led early but suffered from repeated defensive lapses, including a play where they simply forgot about the inbounder. But the Kings couldn’t hit their open three’s. The Blazers led 20-19 after the first quarter. The Kings made a few more shots and and slowly pulled ahead by double-digits in the second quarter, only for Shaedon Sharpe to lead the Blazers on an energy filled run to stay within 4 at halftime.
The wheels slowly came off in the second half. With their three’s still not falling, Sacramento worked the ball inside, with Domantas Sabonis coordinating the action while their backcourt took care of the points. The Kings outscored the Blazers by 15 in the third, then their three-pointers started falling. They opened the fourth on a 16-1 run, taking a 34 point lead. By that point, it was long since over.
Let’s Talk About The Kings
With tonight’s win, the Sacramento Kings have reached the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. That deserves a special mention.
For decades, the Sacramento Kings have been the classic NBA cautionary tale. “If your team doesn’t make smart moves, they’ll turn into the Kings!”. But here we are.
In a season with no truly great NBA teams, you can squint and see parallels with the ongoing NCAA Tournament, with the Final Four all seeded 4th or lower. Likewise, any above-average team has a chance make a big NBA Playoff run this season. The Kings, previously a below-average team with middling management, finally made the right transactions to make their team relevant again. After many failed attempts.
Now, fans of all below-average teams with middling management can daydream about being relevant again. No franchise in particular, though.
With that said, let’s look at the good and bad from tonight’s game.
- The kids can someday say they saw Shaedon Sharpe as a rookie. He wowed the fans all night, finishing with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. He also shot 6-13 from three. It’s too soon to say what Sharpe’s ceiling may be, but he still showed why he is likely a key part of the Blazers’ future. If the Blazers don’t make a desperate offseason trade to cling to the present.
- Jabari Walker had some fun out there tonight. He finished with 12 points on 9 shots, along with 5 rebounds and an assist.
- It’s faint praise, but thanks to the first half, this game didn’t truly feel like a 40-point blowout. Sometimes, in your second straight season of watching your team sit their stars and lose night after night, it’s the small stuff.
- The Blazers couldn’t stay relevant long enough into the season for the kids to see Damian Lillard, who is at the peak of his prime. That’s disappointing on multiple levels.
- This should be the moment for Nas Little. He wasn’t a big part of the rotation at times this season, but with the team in full “youth movement” mode, his minutes have skyrocketed. He should be impressing us by his fourth season, but he just can’t do so consistently. In 40 minutes, he scored 10 points on 4-17 shooting, with 4 turnovers and 1 highlight block. He still has time (and likely the opportunity) to improve, but he should probably thank his agent for locking up a four-year deal before the season.
- The Kings looked like they rarely left second gear all night, increasing the energy long enough to make key plays to keep the Blazers at bay, then pouring it on when their shots finally started falling. It’s wild to watch the Kings and Blazers moving so starkly in opposite directions.
- It’s far more fun to watch the kids lose than to watch the veterans lose. You’d think that would belong in the “Good” list, but it definitely does not.
Box Score | Marlow Ferguson Jr.’s Game Analysis
Another date in Portland with these very same Sacramento Kings Friday night, same Blazers-time, same Blazers-channel.