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Weary Kings can’t keep up with Trail Blazers in Portland, lose second straight

Video: DeMarcus Cousins scores 17 as Kings lose at Portland

DeMarcus Cousins has a bad shooting night after his Sacramento-record 56 points Monday.
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DeMarcus Cousins has a bad shooting night after his Sacramento-record 56 points Monday.

The result Tuesday night was predictable.

The Kings played a double-overtime game Monday night. The Portland Trail Blazers hadn’t played since a blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

And the Kings looked like a tired team as the Trail Blazers eventually ran away from them, 112-97, at Moda Center.

“As a coach I don’t like that excuse,” said Kings coach George Karl of his team’s fatigue. “As a human being it’s probably a justifiable excuse.”

The Kings were off kilter all night, never looking in sync on offense and not having enough to slow down the Blazers. With the loss the Kings (20-25) slipped to ninth in the Western Conference, percentage points behind Portland (21-26).

Sacramento had won a season-high five games in a row before dropping their last two contests. The Kings have lost both games to Portland this season.

The Kings figure to to go back-and-forth with Portland and Utah for eighth in the West the rest of the season, so Karl will be looking to see how the team learns to play through nights like Tuesday.

“We’re going to have 10 more of these games, maybe 12 and we’re going to have to figure out how to win,” Karl said. “Fifty percent would be a great accomplishment. The game was too long for us tonight. There’s no question the game was too long. I don’t know if it was mental fatigue or physical fatigue.”

The amount of missed shots would indicate there was plenty of physical fatigue. DeMarcus Cousins, who had scored a Sacramento-era record 56 points Monday against Charlotte, finished with 17 points on 4-for-21 shooting and missed eight of his 17 free throws.

As a team the Kings shot 41.9 percent and were 18 for 32 from the free throw line.

“You hate to make excuses but I think that played a big part,” Cousins said. “We just didn’t have the usual pop the team has. Even with that said, I still think we had a great chance at winning this game. We just totally let it get away toward the end of the game.”

The Blazers pulled away at the end of the third quarter to take an 88-74 lead. They blew the game open in the fourth, pushing the lead to as large as 22 points.

“When the game turned the wrong way in the second half we didn’t have that commitment that comes most nights,” Karl said. “And my team has been really good at that this year, excellent – persevering (through) a bad game or bad situation.”

It didn’t help that Damian Lillard (15 points, career-high tying 13 assists) and C.J. McCollum (18 points) led a balanced Portland offense and the Kings never looked comfortable.

The Kings were also without Rudy Gay, who was not with the team after suffering a corneal abrasion to his left eye Monday against Charlotte.

“Tonight was one of the games where we needed to move the ball a little bit more,” guard Rajon Rondo said. “It won’t show up on the stat sheet, it’s just how the flow of the game went. We didn’t turn the ball over that much besides myself (five). We got some good looks, missed a bunch of free throws.”

Rondo finished with 15 points and 11 assists. He’s had at least 10 assists in 31 games this season, second most in Sacramento history. Reggie Theus holds the record with 39.

It was also Rondo’s 13th consecutive game with at least 10 assists. That’s second most in franchise history. Nate Archibald recorded double-digit assists in 14 consecutive games in 1972.

Omri Casspi started for Gay and had 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

The team has dropped two games in a row after a season-best five-game winning streak.

The Bee's Jason Jones' three takeaways from the Kings' loss at Portland: The importance of Rudy Gay, Marco Belinelli's slump, figuring out a way to make a playoff push.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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