The Scouting Report: Sacramento Kings
Projected Starting Line-up: Ray McCallum, Ben McLemore, Travis Outlaw, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
Injuries: Isaiah Thomas (quadriceps) out indefinitely, Rudy Gay (back) questionable
DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most-feared players in the league.
Alas, the Kings are still an awful basketball team.
Year one of the new era of Kings basketball, free from speculation the team will have to pick things up and go elsewhere, is much like the franchise’s recent history.
The biggest bright spot for the Kings has been the consistency in the play of DeMarcus Cousins. He’s been considered as one of the league’s more talented players but had been unable to put his whole game together.
After what he’s been able to do this season, some opposing players have even said that he’s the toughest big man to guard in the league.
“DeMarcus Cousins is a tough match-up and the game that they beat us there we really didn’t have much of an opportunity to cover him,” said Terry Stotts on Tuesday. “They got the ball in transition, they got offensive rebounds, he caught it on the perimeter.”
Cousins has gone for over 30+ in all three games against the Blazers this season and Sacramento dominated the Blazers for much of their most recent match-up on January 7 in Sacramento.
The Kings had a 19-point halftime lead and Damian Lillard almost brought the Blazers back after scoring 41 points. 41 proved not to be enough as the Kings were able to hold on behind 35 points and 13 rebounds from Cousins, 32 points from Rudy Gay and 22 points from Isaiah Thomas.
The Kings may be without Rudy Gay who is questionable and Thomas is listed as out indefinitely. If that’s the case Ray McCallum has shown recently that he is able to make plays and play effectively at the point guard position. He hasn’t been able to perform at the same level of Thomas but is capable of making an impact.
Gay can get hot and win your team games as the Blazers have seen twice this season: once when he was in Toronto and in the most recent meeting these two teams had. What we’ve also seen before is that counting on Gay to carry your offense can also be a curse. With Cousins, Gay is clearly the number two, life will be difficult for Cousins without a compliment offensively.
If Portland lets Cousins go off for his 30 and 10 rebounds, Portland can still win this game as they have twice already this season. The key for them will be not to let the other supporting players, such as Gay (if he plays) not to get easy baskets or get clean looks.
Cousins has dominated the Blazers this season but Portland should be just fine to let him dominate so long as they can shut off everybody else.
The Blazers offense has been pretty good lately and the Kings also have a 23rd ranked defense, so Portland can take advantage of them there. Head coach Mike Malone hasn’t pulled any punches questioning his teams effort on the defensive end and Portland should be able to take advantage at what makes Sacramento’s coach so frustrated.