Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on March 3, 2011
The Sacramento Kings fell to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night by a final score of 107-102 in what is now called Power Balance Pavilion.
The Kings looked to win their second game in a row and also win the first game under the arena's new name. On Tuesday, the arena formally changed its name to Power Balance Pavilion after being ARCO Arena since its inaugural game on Nov. 8, 1988.
The Kings started where they finished Monday night, playing solid basketball and shooting 55 percent from the field, but they found themselves down to the Trail Blazers 30-29 after the first quarter.
Newly acquired King Marcus Thornton again came into the game and provided a spark for the Kings off of the bench. Thornton came in with 2:52 remaining in the first quarter and quickly hit a three-point shot, followed up by an acrobatic layup to end the quarter.
Much to Kings head coach Paul Westphal’s delight, rookie big man DeMarcus Cousins followed Monday’s rough game by rediscovering his stroke and finishing the half with 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting and making all five free-throw attempts. Cousins shot 3 for 10 from the free throw on Monday night.
“It’s all a learning experience for (Cousins),” Westphal said. “It is a real credit to him how he has gone through a rough patch, and he can bounce back and play like he did tonight.”
With time running out in the first half, Thornton made another acrobatic layup to bring the Trail Blazers lead to eight, at 61-53. Thornton finished the half with 14 points.
The Kings were able to cut into the lead a little in the third quarter, making the score 79-73 after three quarters of play.
The Kings went on a run to start the fourth quarter and regained the lead with 6:19 remaining in the game when Jason Thompson hit a jump shot from the top of the key to give the Kings an 86-85 lead.
But the Kings faltered late in the game, having three turnovers and a missed field-goal attempt in a stretch of four possessions. Down 100-95 with 1:10 left, the Kings missed an opportunity by allowing former King Gerald Wallace to get an offensive rebound. This set up big man LaMarcus Aldridge for a jump shot with 51 seconds left, essentially sealing the game.
“I thought we played a lot of good basketball tonight,” Westphal said. “I think you can say that the difference came down to a few turnovers when we really needed a shot. I think this was an example of an experienced team jumping on the mistakes at an opportune time that an inexperienced team made.”
Cousins led the Kings with 28 points on 10 of 17 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, followed by Thornton who scored 26 on 11 of 18 shooting, including four three-pointers.
“That’s what I'm here for,” Thornton said. “I’m just trying to help this team win. I’m going to play hard. Whenever my team needs me to do something, I’m there.”
Thornton’s new teammates are appreciating the added scoring that he brings to the team.
“He’s incredible,” Cousins said. “He came in and was an automatic spark. He’s an incredible addition to this team, and he’s helped us out tremendously.”
Guard Wesley Matthews led the Trail Blazers with 21 points, while the Kings held Aldridge to just 9 of 27 shooting for 18 points.
The Kings will look to regain momentum on Saturday night as they take on the new-look Utah Jazz.