Programming note: Blazers-Kings coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Kings Pregame Live on CSN California and streaming live right here (territorial restrictions apply).
SACRAMENTO -- Now eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race, the Sacramento Kings are showing some life. Winners of 4-of-6, the Kings face off with the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday night. With just three games remaining at storied Sleep Train Arena, it’s all able bodied hands on deck.
Darren Collison has been a catalyst for the Kings' latest run. The veteran point guard is averaging 14.4 points and 4.9 assists in 29 games games since the All-Star break. Collison is leading by example, but he has also been vocal about the team’s disappointing season.
Portland is one of the league’s best stories. After losing most of their rotational players in the offseason, the Blazers currently sit just a half game out of the fifth seed in the west. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have come together to form the the best backcourt in the league outside of the Golden State Warriors pairing of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
Trail Blazers by 3
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 31-46, third place in Pacific
Trail Blazers: 41-37, second place in Northwest
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Ben McLemore vs. C.J. McCollum -- As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20-20. Sacramento liked McCollum in the 2013 NBA Draft, bringing him in twice during the pre-draft workouts. But they chose McLemore instead. Portland had the infrastructure in place to develop McCollum, while McLemore was thrown to the wolves early in his career. Three seasons in, McLemore has played nearly 2,000 minutes more than the player taken three spots behind him, but he’s scored seven fewer points.
Kings: F Rudy Gay (rest), F Omri Casspi (right hamstring strain), F/C Kosta Koufos (rest), SG Marco Belinelli (sore right foot) are out.
Trail Blazers: F/C Meyers Leonard (shoulder surgery) out.
The Blazers have owned the Kings of late, winning six straight, including all three this season. During the Sacramento-era, Portland holds an 85-45 advantage and they lead the Kings 126-76 all-time.
“You know it’s just basketball. We love playing the game of basketball and we love to win. When you play checkers, you’re not going to try to lose. We aren’t worried about draft picks or anything like that. We are just trying to win every game we play and win as many games as we can this year.” - Rudy Gay following the Kings win over the Nuggets on Saturday night