Sacramento treated the defensive end like it was optional, and Portland made them pay for it.
What was supposed to be a memorable night for Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton unfortunately ended up being a night that he and his teammates will want to want to forget as soon as possible. On Saturday, the day of Haliburton’s first career NBA start, the Kings were blown out by the Portland Trail Blazers 125-99. The Kings have now lost five of their last six games.
Haliburton had a nice stat line in his first-ever NBA start, tallying 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and dishing out a game-high eight assists, but he and his teammates had a difficult time keeping with the Trail Blazers on the defensive end — something that has become a theme for them in their most recent games. In fact, going into Saturday night’s game, the Kings had the second-worst defensive rating (116.5) in the league. After giving up 125 to Portland on Saturday, that will drop even further.
The Kings didn’t make life much easier on themselves with how much they turned the ball over, either. Not only were their 15 turnovers more than their season average (13.7), but it was seven more turnovers than the Trail Blazers had, and Portland had no issue making the most out of them, scoring 30 points off of turnovers.
With both of those things working agains them, the Kings needed to be perfect from the field to keep things competitive and they weren’t — not even close. On Saturday, Sacramento shot 40.7% from the field and 26.7% from 3-point range, the latter of which is the second-lowest percentage they’ve shot from behind the arc all season. They shot 21.7% from 3-point range against the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 26.
You can chalk their lack of energy up to it being the second night of back-to-back, or Richaun Holmes being sidelined, but the fact of the matter is that the Kings just aren’t a very good defensive team, and with the personnel they have, it was never realistic to assume that they would be. That’s an issue for a team that wants to play as fast as the Kings do.
Hopefully the Kings look more engaged on that end when they take on the Indiana Pacers on Monday.