Willie Cauley-Stein scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his first game off the bench this season to lead the Kings to an 86-82 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night at Golden 1 Center.
George Hill and Garrett Temple each added 14 points for Sacramento to help end a three-game losing streak.
The Kings (4-11) allowed a season-low in points in the win while holding the Blazers (8-7) to 37 percent shooting from the field.
Buddy Hield left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 29 points. CJ McCollum had 19 points.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
A new starting lineup helped
De’Aaron Fox started in the backcourt with Hill. Temple and Skal Labissiere started at forward and Zach Randolph moved to center.
Many around the league wondered when the Kings would go to a Hill-Fox backcourt to start. It seemed natural when the Kings signed Hill, but the rookie Fox had backed up Hill all season.
The move takes some of the facilitating duties out of Hill’s hands and allows him to attack more on offense, which he’s looked to do more of over the last three games. It also frees up time for Frank Mason III to play point guard off the bench.
Overall, the lineup gives the Kings a blend of youth and experience to start games and a group that should be able to get up and down the court.
There is some grit with this team
After a passive defensive effort in Wednesday’s loss at Atlanta, the Kings showed they can get physical and even take a hard foul. This team might not be a good offensive bunch this season, but that’s no reason not to show some fight on defense.
Skal Labissiere helped set the tone early, diving for a loose ball and the Kings kept it going the rest of the game.
Will the real Willie please stand up?
Well, the Kings hope this is the real Cauley-Stein. That’s a player who plays with an energy that’s infectious. He crashes the glass, scores on putbacks and flies around on defense.
Perhaps being benched sparked the energy in Cauley-Stein that was evident in last Thursday’s win over Philadelphia. No matter the reason, the Kings need this kind of effort from Cauley-Stein nightly.