by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings traveled to Portland to play the second game of a home and home, back-to-back set on Saturday night. The Kings hoped to make it two in a row over the Trail Blazers after their big win on Friday night. Those hopes would not be fulfilled.
The Blazers took their revenge on the Kings by winning game two 102-90. Portland combined strong defense with high-percentage shooting to prevent the Kings from ever having a real chance of winning the game.
Portland backcourt comes alive
The Trail Blazers starting guards – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – are the focal point of the Portland offense. If the two guards cannot be shutdown, the chances of beating “Rip City” becomes very problematic.
Against the Kings Saturday night, Lillard and McCollum combined to account for 47 of the Blazers 102 points.
McCollum scored a game-high 25 points shooting 9-for-16 overall and 4-for-7 from beyond the 3-point line. He also was a perfect 3-for-3 at the free throw line while dishing out four assists, grabbing four rebounds and making two steals.
Lillard posted 22 points hitting 8-of-18 shots from the field. He did have a rough night from long-range going just 1-for-8 from downtown. Lillard did convert 5-of-6 from the free throw line and recorded six assists.
Nurkic was a different player
Jusuf Nurkic was not factor on Friday night in Sacramento. On Saturday, the big man scored 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Nurkic was factor under the basket on both ends of the court.
Meyers Leonard was a real pain
A 7-foot-1 center is supposed to be parked down low near the basket – not if you are Meyers Leonard. Leonard is a long-range shooter who really does not have a great deal of skills under the bucket.
Leonard came off the bench to score 11 points for the Blazers. He shot 4-for-8 overall and hit 3-of-5 from beyond the 3-point line. Leonard also hauled in seven rebounds.
Rip City was on fire shooting the ball
Portland shot 54.3-percent (38-for-70) from the floor in the game while hitting 10-of-21 (47.6-percent) three-point opportunites. The Blazers took advantage of the free throw line converting 16-of-21 opportunities from the stripe.
Cauley-Stein leads the way again
Willie Cauley-Stein came off the bench for the Kings again on Saturday night and for the second game in a row he was the Kings high-scorer. The big man scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds against the Blazers.
Cauley-Stein went 1-for-1 from 3-point land. It was the first 3-point basket for Cauley-Stein of his NBA career.
Z-Bo is back
Big Zach Randolph did not score a point and looked tired on Friday night versus Portland. On Saturday night, he looked energized and ready to play. Randolph scored 17 points and pulled down five rebounds in his 21-plus minutes on the floor.
Randolph shot 6-for-11 overall including one 3-point basket. He went an impressive 4-for-5 from the free throw line.
Four guards scored in double figures
Frank Mason is making the most of his playing time. Saturday night he scored 13 points shooting 50-percent (5-for-10) from the field in his 19-minutes of playing time. Mason also added two assists.
George Hill had another strong game shooting 5-for-11 from the field and scoring 12 points. He converted 2-of-3 three-point opportunities.
Bogdan Bogdanovic showed signs that his shot may be coming back as he went 5-for-13 from the floor and hit 2-of-6 from downtown. His form has been looking good but the ball has just not been going through the hoop.
De’Aaron Fox got the start again as Dave Joerger went with the two point guard look once again. Fox scored 11 points in 27-minutes on the floor. Fox hit 5-of-9 from the floor and dished out two assists to go with two steals.
Almost everyone played
The Kings went with a 12-man bench for this game because Buddy Hield rolled his ankle on Friday night. The good news for Kings fans is that Hield was feeling much better on Saturday but was held out as a precaution. He is expected to be available for the game on Monday against Denver.
Only Justin Jackson did enter the game on Saturday night for the Kings. Jackson did not play on Friday versus the Blazers.
The Kings will return to action Monday night when they will host the Denver Nuggets at home. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm.
The Trail Blazers head out on the road and will play in Memphis on Monday night.