When the Sacramento Kings signed DeMarcus Cousins to a max deal this offseason, they imagined the big man having games like the one he had tonight. He was counted on to deliver big numbers, and Cousins delivered on that contract. Unfortunately for him, no one else showed up.
Cousins had his way with the Portland Trail Blazers‘ big men, especially coming up big against the inept Robin Lopez as ‘Big Cuz’ ended up with 35 points, nine rebounds, four steals and a block. Its the kind of signature game Cousins is truly capable of every night. But if the Kings want the wins to pile up, Cousins is going to need to some help — and fast.
That help was non-existent in Portland as the Kings came undone in the fourth quarter. The Kings cut the lead to single-digits repeatedly but got no closer than five thanks to the hot shooting of LaMarcus Aldridge. To their credit, Sacramento held onto the ball, committing just 11 turnovers and pestered Portland on defense especially in the fourth.
The Kings should have pulled out a victory as they had six players score in double digits, but lost because they lacked the offensive firepower. Marcus Thornton continues to struggle in finding his shot, shooting 2-of-11 from the field and just 1-of-6 from deep. Isaiah Thomas continues to be a revelation in his backup role as he scored 13 points and dished out seven assists, but the Kings got absolutely nothing from John Salmons or Jason Thompson who finished with more fouls than points. That was enough to let the Blazers squeeze out the tight victory.
Coach Michael Malone should at least be happy with the effort he saw following their last game. That game resulted in a players-only meeting where veterans John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez let their teammates have it based on their poor effort. It was a much better showing, but the first-year coach would probably agree that there no moral victories, just real ones.
Those wins may be hard to come by as the schedule doesn’t let up. With the Kings officially in a slump and desperately in need of a win, they will get the Blazers again before they face the Brooklyn Nets. Sacramento then takes on the surprising Detroit Pistons before an always-tough matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The road gets tougher for Sacramento, but this young team still has time to gel. These upcoming games are crucial to any long-term success as the Kings look to get out of their early-season slump.