Photo credit: @Oregonian
By Jeremiah Salmonson
SACRAMENTO — After an unimpressive showing from the Kings on Opening Night in Phoenix, they turned to the home opener to try and get their first win. The Kings had been blown out by the Suns on Wednesday and faced a tough opponent in the Portland Trail Blazers. It is well-documented what the Blazers were able to do last season making a run in the playoffs. So, the Kings starring an 0-1 start in the face looked to turn things around in Sacramento at 7:00 PM PST.
In the first quarter, the Kings offense showed out. Unfortunately for the Kings, so did the Blazers. It was an expectedly back and forth first quarter. The Kings De’Aaron Fox and the Blazers’ Damian Lillard matched each other with 8 points apiece to lead their respective squads. Fresh off his new contract, Buddy Hield added 5 points for the Kings. The Blazers got a 6-point contribution from veteran forward Rodney Hood. At the end of the first quarter, it was 27-25 Kings on top.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same from both sides. The Trail Blazers and Kings continued to trade baskets. The Blazers got a great performance in the second quarter from Anfernee Simons, who put up 10 points. Damian Lillard continued to play well scoring another 7 points. However, the Kings and Bogdan Bogdanovic didn’t allow Portland to pull away. Bogdanovic put up 14 points on 4-6 shooting to lead the Kings to a tie going into the second half. De’Aaron Fox finished the half with 14 points and Buddy Hield had 12. The Kings and Blazers went into halftime all knotted up at 57 apiece.
In the third quarter, the Kings started to implode. Bad defense, missed shots, and turnovers led to an ugly quarter for the Kings. Portland outscored the Kings 37-27 as Hassan Whiteside dropped 16 points on the beleaguered Kings defense. De’Aaron Fox added 8 points to his game total to give him 22 through the third. Headed to the final 12 minutes, the Kings were down by 10.
In the fourth quarter, the Kings were able to keep the Blazers at bay. However, the deficit they built in the third quarter proved insurmountable. The Kings and Blazers both scored 28 points in the fourth which led to a 122-112 loss in the 2019 home opener. The Kings’ top scorer was De’Aaron Fox, who scored 28 points on 34 minutes of play. Hield scored 21 points on 31 minutes of play and Bogdan Bogdanovic dropped 16 on 28 minutes of floor time.
After the game, the overall mood was somber. The Kings came into this season with tons of optimism. Kings fans came into this season with tons of optimism. After all, the Kings had added some key role players in what they knew was an already strong core. They also changed leadership at the helm with new head coach Luke Walton, whose hoping to push the Kings over the next level. So far, that hasn’t happened. It’s still early, but the Kings need to course correct in a hurry to stay relevant this season.
The Kings travel to Utah for a back-to-back against the Jazz on Saturday evening at 6:00 PM PST.