PORTLAND, Ore. – The Kings figured out how to make a 35-point effort from center DeMarcus Cousins a footnote Friday night.
That's because Sacramento still hasn't figured out how to defend at the level its coach wants. Consequently, the Kings fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 104-91 at Moda Center.
Sacramento has lost four consecutive games since the season opener, the only game in which it has held an opponent under 48 percent shooting and fewer than 98 points.
The Blazers shot 48.8 percent Friday, including 43.5 percent from 3-point range.
"We didn't defend anybody. It's a broken record," said irritated Kings coach Michael Malone. "Until we buy in and try to defend for 48 minutes, DeMarcus can score 50 points, and we'll still lose. I'm not worried about the offense – I'm worried about giving up 48 percent every night."
Cousins agreed that defense remains a problem.
"Same thing we've been preaching," Cousins said. "It's just a lot of small things – getting our rotations down pat, executing down the stretch."
Executing on offense wasn't a problem most of the night for Cousins. He shot 13 of 25 and grabbed nine rebounds to go with four steals.
"The numbers don't mean anything with a loss," Cousins said. " We've got to get in the lab and correct this, can't continue to make the same mistakes."
Those mistakes include giving up uncontested layups because of blown assignments and leaving known shooters uncovered behind the 3-point line.
The Kings continue to suffer from a failure to heed their scouting reports and execute.
"Sometimes they were getting 3s off us just trying to make it up," Malone said. "Not executing the game plan defensively and making stuff up on the fly. And when you do that, you're going to get hurt."
The Blazers took turns hurting the Kings, as all five starters scored in double figures.
Damian Lillard continued the trend of opposing point guards having their way with the Kings. He had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The previous four starting point guards the Kings have faced averaged 21.5 points and 10.0 assists.
But it wasn't just Lillard who had his way. Guard Wesley Matthews had 18 points and seven rebounds. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge took over late to finish with 20 points and seven rebounds.
The Kings tried to rally from 14 down in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 92-86 with 3:57 to play. But Aldridge scored the next six points to end any hope of a Kings comeback.
"We had stretches where we played OK, but we just couldn't sustain it, and that's been the story of a very short season," Malone said.
Malone wants more focus from the Kings on defense.
"We have to be a lot more alert and understand who we're guarding," Malone said. "Understand personnel, who we're closing out to, and have a lot more discipline on the defensive end of the floor."
The Kings are harping on basics to fix the defensive issues.
"We've got to rotate; we've got to talk," said guard Greivis Vasquez. "We're missing a lot of things, and we aren't doing it as a team. We have to take pride."
Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.