The plan was not to play anyone in the rotation anywhere near 30 minutes, but Marco Belinelli and Darren Collison forced Kings coach George Karl to re-evaluate.
Belinelli scored a game-high 32 points and Collison had 21 points and 10 assists to lead the Kings to a 109-105 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night at Moda Center. It was the preseason opener for both teams.
After a slow start by the Kings, the bench, led by Collison and Belinelli, outscored the Blazers’ reserves 29-15 in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
“Marco and Darren had such good control of the game that putting a substitute in would be irresponsible to the person you put in,” Karl said. “That guy is going to be your third guy.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Collison played 36 minutes, Belinelli 34 and Kosta Koufos 32. No other King played more than 26 minutes.
Collison said Karl asked if he could finish the game, and the coach said yes.
“I think it’s important for us to try and get a win, to try and get a better feeling for ourselves as a team,” Collison said.
Like Collison, Belinelli said winning mattered Monday night.
I think it’s important for us to try and get a win, to try and get a better feeling for ourselves as a team.
Kings guard Darren Collison
“For sure we can be a better team,” Belinelli said. “In the game we still made a lot of mistakes, and at this time I think it’s important to win games, especially from the beginning. It’s just a preseason game, but we need to bring a winning mentality, and I think it’s important for us for our season.”
DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes for the Kings. Damian Lillard had 17 points to lead Portland.
As expected to open the preseason, turnovers were a problem. The Kings had 23, as did Portland. Karl said he was pleased with the Kings’ halfcourt defense but that some of their bad defense was caused by their bad offense.
The Kings play at Phoenix on Wednesday.