Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson played a game of picking who he would date, marry and ditch in a video played on the scoreboard in the first half of Tuesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
If the Kings had to make the same decisions for the eventual 103-86 loss to the Trail Blazers, I suspect they’d date their first-half assist numbers, marry their second-quarter intensity and ditch the rest.
The Kings—who averaged 16 assists per game going into tonight’s contest—finished the first half with 15 of their 19 total assists while managing to claw back from an early 15-point deficit.
Unfortunately for the Kings, the Trail Blazers snapped their four-game losing streak by outscoring them 28 to 16 in the third quarter to take the lead for good.
“I think we spun so much energy getting back into the game in the first half, that we ran out of gas in that third quarter, and we couldn’t do it again,” Kings guard Marcus Thornton said in a postgame locker room interview. “It’s on us to be able to come out and, you know, play with intensity from jump, you know. You can’t expect to get down 15-20 points in the first quarter and come back and win every game.”
Portland's rookie point guard Damian Lillard finished 7-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from the three-point line while amassing game highs of 22 points and nine assists.
“He understands the process of the game, the flow of the game, the facial expression of guys that haven’t touched the ball yet, when to get them the basketball, how long to hold a pick-and-roll guy in a trap situation," said Kings head coach Keith Smart about the Blazers' sixth-overall pick in his postgame press conference.
"He has a feel (...) that you try to get your players to emulate. He has that already,” Smart continued. “A lot of the great players at the 1 position, they understand that, and he has that already. Those guys don’t come along that often that have the whole package already.”
All five of the Trail Blazers starters finished in double figures, and the Blazers out-rebounded the Kings 44 to 33, out-assisted the Kings 20 to 19 and made 14 of 27 three-pointers, while the Kings managed to make only one of 11.
Kings guard Jimmer Fredette—who was averaging just eight minutes per game through the team’s first seven games, including not playing at all in one of them—finished the game with season highs of 23:39 minutes, 13 points and a career-high six assists.
Following the game, Fredette shared his thoughts on his career passing night.
“Well, guys were running the floor, especially in that second quarter, and I was getting guys running the floor,” Fredette said in the locker room after the game. “(The Blazers) were really trying to double me in some of those pick-and-roll situations or coming off of screens, so other guys were open, and I was just trying to hit them.”
Offseason pickup James Johnson finished with a team-high 16 points for the Kings, and Jason Thompson brought in 11 rebounds.
The Kings' next game is Friday at home against the Atlanta Hawks.
Aaron Brooks started at point guard for Isaiah Thomas, who was dealing with a death in the family.
DeMarcus Cousins served the second game of his two-game suspension tonight for confronting San Antonio Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliot after Friday’s game.
Rookie forward Thomas Robinson returned from his two-game suspension tonight for the elbow he threw at Detroit Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko on Nov. 7. He finished with career highs in points (12) and minutes (30:19) in the absence of Cousins.
The Kings are now 2-6 on the season after falling at home Tuesday night, and they play six of the next seven games at home.