- My 10* PERFECT STORM is on the Sac Kings at 10:10 ET.
The Portland Trail Blazers have made the NBA playoffs in each of the last EIGHT years, while the Sacramento Kings own a 15-year postseason drought! Other than that minor fact, it's hard to tell these two franchises apart! The Blazers are near-perfect at home (9-1) but will bring a 1-7 record with them to Sacramento, which is just 6-12 (2-7 at home) and will be playing its second game after the firing of head coach Luke Walton.
The Blazers have been led by one of the NBA's best backcourt duos for quite some time now. Lillard (21.8 & 7.9 APG) has taken over the scoring lead from backcourt partner McCollum, shaking off a poor start by scoring at least 20 points in EIGHTstraight games. McCollum (21.0-4.2-4.3) is right behind Lillard, as the duo is joined in the starting lineup by SF Powell (16.7), center Nurkic (10.8 & 11.8) and PF Covington (7.1 & 4.8). Guard Simons (11.6) plus forwards Little (8.2 & 5.4) and Nance (6.6 & 5.1) add depth off the bench.
There is NOTHING wrong with the talent Sacramneto puts out on the court, it's just the Kings can't seem to "get it right." Fox (19.9 & 5.6 APG), Haliburton (12.1 & 5.1 APG) and Hield (16.8) are a terrific guard trio plus SF Barnes (19.3 & 7.4) and undersized center Holmes (14.4 & 9.8) are quality players. Harkless is a nominal starter at PF but big men like Metu (8.7), Len (6.2 & 4.1) and Thompson (4.8 & 5.3) are gaining more playing time. Baylor rookie Mitchell (8.7) has also shown promise on the perimeter.
Here's the 'dope.' Portland's only road win came back on Nov 12 in a 104-92 victory at Houston, which owns an NBA-worst 1-16 record. Ironically, Portland's only home loss came in its season-opener, when the Kings beat the Blazers 24-121 victory. "Revenge" would be an easy call but "not so fast." Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes established career bests of 36 points and eight 3-pointers in that win and I believe Alvin Gentry can help this team to perform up to the level of its talents.
The Kings have lost EIGHT of nine (including four straight) and their first game under Gentry looked a lot like most Kings games. "I do think our confidence has been rattled a bit," Gentry said. "You do have a tendency to go through that somewhat. The one message I said from Day 1 is that the only thing and the only one that's going to rescue us from this is us. There's nobody in this league, not in the 35 years I've been in it, that has any sympathy for us. So you have to come together and you have to find a way to bail yourself out of this."
Here's the perfect spot for the Kings to earn a much-needed win. They should have some confidence from theri win at Portland but they also catch Portland on the second of a back-to-back, having won 119-100 last night at home over the Nuggets.