by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings went to Portland on Wednesday night with the opportunity win their 40th game of the 2018-19 season which would have been the first time a Kings team had recorded 40 wins since 2005-06. Much to the chagrin of the multitude of Kings fans, the 40th win did not happen.
Portland decided to rest all of their starters and most of their key second team players. That gave the Kings a significant advantage in their quest to reach 40 wins.
A Record-Setting First Half
The Kings started the game on fire. They scored a franchise record 87 points in the first half falling just three points short of tying the NBA record for the most points scored in the opening 24 minutes of an NBA game. They shot an incredible 66.7-percent (32/48) from the field. They hit 13-of-20 (65%) of their 3-point shots.
De’Aaron Fox scored 17 points. Rookie Marvin Bagley III scored 16 points in just over 14-minutes on the floor. Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic all scored 10 points each in the first half.
The Kings went to the locker room at halftime with an 87-62 lead. It appeared that everything was going Sacramento’s way and that win number 40 was only 24 minutes away.
Coach Joerger’s Big Decision
Head coach Dave Joerger decided that all of his starters would not play in the second half of the game on Wednesday night. That in part may have been a tribute to the job well done by the starters and giving a well-deserved opportunity to the second team and reserves. The problem is the plan did not work.
The Trail Blazers outscored the Kings 36-26 in the third quarter and cut the Kings lead to 15 points. As the Kings went to the fourth period, you might have expected Joerger to have reinserted Hield and Fox to reenergize his team’s scoring attack. He did not do that.
Joerger chose to stay with his reserves and that decision did not go well for the team.
The Final Quarter
Portland scored 38 points in the fourth quarter while the Kings only managed to put 18 points in the book. Anfernee Simons led the Trail Blazers scoring attack with 12 points. Frank Mason scored 10 for the Kings.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Trail Blazers had defeated the Kings 136-131.
- Anfernee Simons led all scorers with 37 points.
- Former Kings player Skal Labissiere put up 27 points against his old mates. Skal made it a double-double by grabbing 15 rebounds.
- Jake Layman, Meyers Leonard, and Gary Trent, Jr. all scored 19 points each in the contest.
- The Kings leading scorer was Marvin Bagley III with 20 points and nine rebounds. The rookie has had an incredible season.
- De’Aaron Fox and Yogi Ferrell scored 17 points each.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic and Frank Mason III both scored 15 points in the game.
One Big Question to Ask
In his exit interview, this reporter thinks that head coach Dave Joerger needs to be asked why he did not do more to get win number 40 on Wednesday night. The psychological lift for the team and fans of crossing over into the 40 win plateau would have been huge. Joerger needs to be held accountable for letting that opportunity get away.
In the meantime, the NBA Draft is 72 days away.