The Sacramento Kings have now concluded their fourth game in five days.
Starting the preseason 3-1, with impressive victories over the Portland Trail Blazers (2) and the San Antonio Spurs.
In tonight’s action, the Portland Trail Blazers were missing their star point guard, Damian Lillard. Lillard missed tonight’s game with a soft ankle sprain that occured during Monday’s action against Sacramento.
Offensively for the Blazers, it was C.J. McCollum who stepped up in his place. In 25 minutes of action, McCollum torched the Kings for 30 points.
After the game, George Karl discussed the action from the young guard, “there were four or five of those shots, that couldn’t be defended any better.”
McCollum’s effort wasn’t enough, as the Blazers fell short of victory once again. Portland’s bench was heavily outscored by the Kings 45-26. Allen Crabbe and Pat Connaughton played heavy minutes for Portland, scoring 13 and 6 points respectively.
For the most part, Rip City kept the game competitive. Heading into the fourth quarter, the game the Kings lead 71-70.
With a huge impact on defense, the bigs of Sacramento held the Blazers scoreless in five pivotal moments of the fourth quarter. The reserves of Portland were held to just 18 points total.
Playing a huge role for Sacramento was rookie, Willie Cauley-Stein. The first-year player out of the University of Kentucky, had an immediate impact both offensively and defensively. Willie finished the night with seven points and nine rebounds. Cauley-Stein had a great grasp on his ability and didn’t force himself to be a player he’s not. “My role is cut pretty clear. It’s clean the basket, get easy buckets, get a lot of rebounds, block shots, D up. It’s a pretty cookie cutter role,” he said in his locker after the game.
Kings All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins, even complimented the achievements of the newest power forward. “I’m so happy. For him to be a rookie, you trust him in that position.”
Deservedly so, Willie has cracked the starting lineup in the team’s past three games. Before tonight, Stein has been averaging nearly seven points and seven rebounds.
The Sacramento Kings played great basketball, finishing the contest with 20 assists and more importantly another win. The team is beginning to play with confidence and developing much-needed chemistry.
The Kings receive a three-day break before heading to L.A. to take on the Lakers to face second overall draft pick D’Angelo Russell and Kobe Bryant,