After a disappointing loss to open the season to the Denver Nuggets the Blazers traveled down to Sacramento (after a long delay) to take on the Kings in their home opener. The Kings were blown out by Devin Booker and the Suns on Wednesday, they also lost second-year forward Marvin Bagley Jr. for 6-8 weeks with a fractured thumb.
With 35 points Damian Lillard led the Blazers to a 122-112 victory tonight. Hassan Whiteside had 22-9, CJ McCollum had 19, and Anfernee Simons 15 had for the winning team tonight.
The Blazers started off getting a quick, taking a quick 7-2 lead on some hot shooting by Rodney Hood. The Kings then remembered that the Blazers do not play the three-pointer very well and started knocking them down jumping out on an 11-0 run to take a lead that they would have for most of the first half. The Blazers despite racking up five turnovers in the first quarter kept it close and trailed by only two, 27-25 after the first quarter.
Anfernee Simons decided that the Blazers did not need to trail and scored ten points in the second quarter, he also had a couple of rebounds and a steal to help the Blazers retake the lead in the second quarter. Damian Lillard contributed eight points in the second and Kent Bazemore had a couple of big baskets to tie things up at 57 heading into the half.
The Kings were 10 of 19 from three in the first half. The Blazers obviously didn’t learn any lessons from the Nuggets game. They are going to have to figure our their switches, a lot of open Kings three-point shooters.
CJ McCollum did not have a good first half. He’s going to find his groove, but he needs to get there sooner or later.
The Blazers jumped out to a 12-0 run to start the third quarter. The Blazers finally started getting Hassan Whitside the ball in good spots on the low block and he converted on a few buckets easily. CJ started to attack the basket and had a few nice mid-range jumpers. The Blazers attacked the Kings relentlessly in the paint to start the third. That’s how they got a quick 69-57 lead.
The Kings then went on a 13-2 run, knocking down a three and De’Aaron Fox attacking the paint like it stole his trick or treat bag.
At this point, Whiteside decided he was going to abuse the backup bigs for the Kings. Whiteside had 18 points and a lot of those came off dunks rolling to the hole. Unlike the first half, they hit him high with passes instead of passes that he had to bring low to gather. Keep it above the shoulders with Whiteside and the Blazers are going to get some easy points.
Blazers had a 94-84 lead at the end of three.
I have to commend Zach Collins for getting mugged and getting some really tough rebounds in the fourth quarter. He fought hard down low and preserved some possessions for the Blazers. In the fourth, his efforts in the paint got teammates eight points.
From here Damian Lillard took the game over going on a personal 10-0 run to basically ice the game. CJ added a couple of three-pointers to officially put it away.
Every time that Hassan Whiteside brought the ball down low he had it stolen. I counted at least three steals by the Kings on three dribbles by Whiteside in the first half. The guards need to get the ball to Whiteside in a much better position. They fixed this for the most part in the 2nd half. Great adjustment by Terry Stotts and crew at halftime.
It might not be this year, but Simons is going to be a sixth man of the year candidate. The award belongs to Lou Williams this year. Simons does need to work on his defense a bit and his passing can be a little bit crisper. He had a few sloppy passes that were picked off.
That three-point defense was dreadful in the first half. The Blazers gave up 10 threes and made only six of their own.
Mario Hezonja has the best hair in the league. It’s perfect every night.
The Blazers needed a blow out so Nassir Little can get some minutes.
CJ had three dunks tonight.