SACRAMENTO -- There is no questioning the shorthanded Kings work ethic in a 110-99 loss to the Blazers in front of a raucous near sellout crowd of 16,776 at Sleep Train Arena.
However, without DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison, Sacramento (20-37) lacked the execution to get the job done against a savvy, seasoned Portland squad.
“Yeah, I was impressed,” Karl said regarding his squad’s effort. “They (Portland) execute real well and know their personality well, probably better than we know ours.
“There will be a lot of good to show from tonight, but there’s also the frustration of losing the game.”
The Kings are now 2-12 this season without Cousins and Portland took advantage.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Kings lose to Blazers as comeback falls short]
Portland (39-19) outscored Sacramento in second chance points 24-12 and outrebounded the Kings - who entered the game leading the NBA in rebound margin - 43-33.
“Without DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison, you have to figure out how to cover those holes and find out who is going to be responsible for what,” Karl added. “At moments, I think we did a good job, but then there were moments when I think that I didn’t do a good job.”
The 3-point line was also a difference maker as the Blazers were 10-for-24 from downtown while the Kings were 3-for-12.
“A couple of the 3's they made, we fell asleep,” Karl admitted. “Then a couple of the 3’s that they made were from good plays.
“You have to take some chances to go after LaMarcus Aldridge sometimes.”
Aldridge was stellar, scoring 26 points to go along with 15 rebounds, and Damian Lillard, from nearby Oakland, scored 31 points including nine in the fourth quarter and also had seven assists.
“Then, in the last five minutes of the game—well, we shouldn’t have extended it as long as we did,” Karl said. “They found the three-ball. We cut their lead to one then they made that three.”
Lillard responded with “that three” to extend Portland’s lead to 92-88 after Rudy Gay, who finished with 26 points, had cut the Portland lead to 89-88 at the 8:23 mark of the fourth quarter on his sole 3-point attempt of the game, and the Kings never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
There were bright spots as Sacramento outscored Portland 52-50 in paint and 24-7 in fast break points.
Ray McCallum had another solid effort in the starting point guard role scoring 12 points with five assists and zero turnovers while Andre Miller was 6-for-7 from the floor scoring 12 points to go along with 10 assists.
“He (McCallum) doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, he’s polished, he’s athletic and he’s taking advantage of the opportunity,” Miller said of the second year point guard. “That’s something good for a player like that – it’s a confidence builder and you can see his confidence is there when he’s out on the court.”
Ben McLemore had a solid second quarter, scoring 10 points in the stanza and Derrick Williams contributed 18 points off the bench including 13 in the fourth quarter.
“Derrick is one of our more skilled players and we’re trying to figure out how he fits with the team,” Karl said. “I thought that he and Andre Miller had chemistry together tonight. As a coaching staff, we feel that we should try and get more out of him, and more consistent value.”
For Sacramento not everything can be measured in wins and losses at this stage of the game but winning, of course, always remains the objective.
“As I told them after the game, no one is going to feel sorry for us,” Karl added. “On the road trip, most of the teams that we are going to play are playoff teams. It’s going to be important for those teams to win and we’re going to have to play better than we did tonight to win.”
The Kings battled admirably without Cousins and Collison.
Derrick Williams was productive off the bench going 7-for-12 from the floor scoring 18 points in 24 minutes.
Andre Miller secured a double-double scoring 12 points and dishing for 10 assists.
The Kings were outworked without Cousins at minus-10 rebound margin and minus-12 second chance points.
With Cousins likely back soon and even with Collison likely headed to surgery, Sacramento’s focus on the process of improvement should bear dividends.
It won’t be easy, however, as the Kings embark on an eight-game road trip beginning Tuesday at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.