The Sacramento Kings were blown out. That's a lede you may have seen from Sacramento's previous game, as the Portland Trail Blazers blew out the Kings 125-99, a day after the Kings lost by 21 to the Toronto Raptors.
Sacramento struggled immediately out of the gate. CJ McCollum sliced the Kings' interior and perimeter defense, en route to 12 first-quarter points, including two triples. Jusuf Nurkic played give-and-go passes with McCollum and Damian Lillard as well, and the Kings failed to hinder those entry passes. After the give-and-gos decelerated, Portland started to attack Marvin Bagley III on pick-and-rolls, and boy, they scored inside the paint with ease. Carmelo Anthony also hunted Nemanja Bjelica on isolations; Bjelica garnered three fouls in five minutes as Melo finished the period with eight points. On the other side, Tyrese Haliburton, who received his first career start after Richaun Holmes' was ruled out with an injury, accumulated four assists in eight minutes. Harrison Barnes continued to shine, racking up eight points and four rebounds in nine minutes. However, Sacramento trailed 38-24 after one.
Sacramento attempted to run a zone defense to moderate Portland's offense, but it didn't work as McCollum and company continued to wreak havoc on all levels. The Kings utilized the right corner on offense to obtain good looks, as Glenn Robinson III swished a triple, followed by a Barnes three. Robinson later used the corner to boost towards the baseline and kicked it out to Buddy Hield for three. But for every good Kings play, Portland answered with ten of their own (not exactly, but the point remains). Despite shooting 0-5 from deep, Lillard and company led Sacramento by 17 at halftime. Sacramento had zero scorers in double-digit figures.
De'Aaron Fox, reportedly on a minutes restriction, buried a three in rhythm early in the quarter. It was a promising sign that did little to motivate the team further. Portland pursued to hunt Bagley on defense; it didn't matter if they were attempting threes over him or scoring at the rim. Hassan Whiteside received additional burn to assist in Bagley's deficiencies, but he had minimal impact. Whiteside airballed a deep two late in the quarter, a clear symbolization of the game. Sacramento trailed 93-69 going into the fourth.
Despite the blowout score, Luke Walton kept the starters on the floor. Justin James played more than usual, including a three-minute spurt late in the second; Chimezie Metu entered at the five-minute mark; Robert Woodard and Jahmi'us Ramsey each played right at the end. The game finished with Portland on top, 125-99.
Walton elevated Tyrese Haliburton into the starting lineup, but the rookie was inaudible in the scoring column when it mattered. The points came eventually, but by then, it was too little too late. Still, he finished the game with 12 points, eight assists, two rebounds, one steal and three turnovers - a rare blemish on his stat sheet.
De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield were both lackadaisical tonight, compared to Portland's energetic backcourt. Fox struggled on the SEGABABA against Phoenix earlier in the season, and he came out sluggish tonight with 10 points (3-9 FG) and two assists. Hield's shooting woes continued, as he went 2-8 (25%) from three for a total of eight points. Eighteen points out of your highly paid backcourt is substandard.
Glenn Robinson III wasn't perfect, but he was easily the best bench player, going for 11 points (3-5 FG, 4-4 FT), four rebounds and one assist. When DaQuan Jeffries returns, Robinson will be solid wing depth to have.
Marvin Bagley III concluded with 15 points (5-14 FG, 1-2 3P) and eight rebounds in 24 minutes. He really needs to convert those bunnies down low, because the lack of touch is glaringly perceptible. His defense did him no favors, either.
Sacramento continues their home stretch against the Indiana Pacers (6-3) on Monday, Jan. 11 at 7:00 p.m. PST.