SACRAMENTO -- Needing a win to climb into the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, the Sacramento Kings completely fell apart in the fourth quarter, allowing the Portland Trail Blazers to come away with a 98-94 victory at Sleep Train Arena.
Despite playing without All-Star guard Damian Lillard, the Blazers stayed within striking distance the entire game. When it mattered, Portland hit shots and the Kings didn’t.
Third-year pro C.J. McCollum lit up the Kings for 35 points on 14-for-28 shooting, including three huge baskets late. The former Lehigh star added 11 rebounds and nine assists, barely missing his first triple-double of his career.
Meyers Leonard came off the Portland bench to score 16 points and grab 11 rebounds and Maurice Harkless added 13 points as the Trail Blazers improved to 13-20 on the season.
The Kings have been waiting for DeMarcus Cousins to return to form all month. A series of injuries have slowed the All-Star big, but he looked every bit the part of an NBA superstar on Sunday night, until the fourth quarter.
Cousins battered the Blazers in the post, finishing with 36 points on 12-for-26 shooting, but he hit just 2-for-9 in the deciding fourth quarter where the Kings shot a disastrous 3-for-18 from the field.
With Rudy Gay struggling with his shot, Omri Casspi stepped up to the challenge, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the win. Gay couldn’t find his stroke all night, shooting just 2-of-12 from the field, but his 14 rebounds helped the Kings stay in the game.
Rajon Rondo orchestrated the offense, finishing with 15 assists. The veteran guard add nine points, but turned the ball over eight times on the night. Darren Collison kicked in 10 points as the Kings dropped to 12-18 on the season.
McCollum killed the Kings down the stretch, hitting multiple circus shots to give Portland the advantage. For the night, McCollum scored 35 points, including seven in the final frame.
Sacramento went cold in the fourth, combining to hit just 3-of-18 from the field for 14 points. Portland wasn’t much better, but they did enough to get the win.
Willie Cauley-Stein is beginning to practice and getting closer to a return from a right index finger injury that he sustained on December 3rd. Forward Eric Moreland is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his left foot last week.
Following the game, the Kings board a bus for the 90 minute drive to Oakland where they are set to take on the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. The Kings return to Sacramento to take on the 2-30 Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.