It was all going so well.
The Kings had overcome an early 15-point deficit. They led by four points with 7:22 to play in the third quarter.
Then Damian Lillard took over.
Portland's rookie point guard sparked a 24-4 run to close the quarter as the Kings lost their third consecutive game, 103-86, to the Trail Blazers Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Lillard finished with a game-high 22 points and nine assists. Eight points and five assists came in the pivotal third quarter when the Kings had no answer to slow down Lillard and the Trail Blazers.
"Most guys don't come along that often that have the whole package already," said Kings coach Keith Smart.
Lillard made 5 of 6 three-pointers. Portland made 14 of 27 threes, while the Kings were 1 of 11 from three-point range.
"Obviously (Lillard) shot the ball well, but I thought he took what was there," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "When you make your shots, it's always impressive, but I thought he had a good floor game, too."
The Kings, who have struggled on offense all season, had little chance of keeping pace with a depleted roster.
Starting center DeMarcus Cousins (suspension), starting point guard Isaiah Thomas (personal reasons) and reserve Francisco Garcia (flu) all missed the game. Aaron Brooks started for Thomas but left the game in the first quarter with a sore left ankle.
"We've got a broken team right now because we don't have all the pieces," Smart said.
When the Kings have all their players back, improving the offense has to be a priority.
Tuesday's game was the fourth time in eight games the Kings (2-6) have scored fewer than 90 points. The Kings have scored 100 points or more just once.
Still, the Kings had their own hot-shooting point guard in the first half. But Jimmer Fredette watched most of the third while Lillard was orchestrating the Portland offense.
Smart promised more Fredette to help the offense. He was a part of the second unit that helped the Kings erase the early 15-point deficit.
Fredette had 10 points and three assists in the first half.
Fredette played a season-high 25 minutes and scored 13 points. He also had a career-high six assists.
Fredette was on the bench most of the third quarter, though. With Brooks out for the game, Smart started Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton at guard in the second half.
"I went with the group I thought could get us off to a good start because I knew Aaron probably wasn't coming back," Smart said. "Based on some things that were happening, we didn't want to pick up early fouls."
Smart also said he wanted to keep more size on the court to not allow the Blazers as many options to post up as they began doing in the second quarter with their wing players.
By the time Fredette checked into the game with 2:01 left in the third quarter, the Kings were down 69-56.
"I tried to get going," Fredette said. "I think our pace was a lot slower when I got back into the game. And I think our best game is when we were playing more uptempo in that second quarter.
"We kind of got away from that but I think a lot of that was because they were making shots. It's hard to fast break when they're making baskets."
All five Blazers starters scored in double figures. In addition to Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 points. Wesley Matthews scored 18 points for Portland (3-5).
James Johnson led the Kings with a season-high 16 points.