PORTLAND -- After a rough showing Monday evening against the Chicago Bulls, the Sacramento Kings are in need of a bounce-back game Wednesday. They'll take on the Portland Trail Blazers to kick off a four-game road trip that will include stops in San Antonio, Dallas and Houston over the next week.
The Blazers aren't the same team that ran the Kings over in the first week of the season. They also aren't the same team that Sacramento beat 107-99 in the second week of November.
Coach Terry Stotts' team continues to evolve after a surprisingly bad start to the season. They have added a marquee name in Carmelo Anthony and new faces are earning time in the rotation.
The Kings under head coach Luke Walton are making strides as well. After an 0-5 start to the season, they've posted an 8-6 record and they've climbed back into the chase for the postseason.
Here are five things to look for as the two teams prepare to face off Wednesday at the Moda Center.
Bogi is banged up
Walton's crew is already banged up with the absence of De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. Bogdan Bogdanovic is struggling with tightness in his left hamstring and has been ruled out for the game against Portland. The injury cost him a game last week and slowed him down considerably against the Bulls.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is out tonight with a right knee contusion. He'll be day-to-day moving forward.— James Ham (@James_HamNBCS) December 5, 2019
The third-year guard is averaging 14.8 points, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game as the leader of the Kings' second unit. If he can't play against Portland, expect Yogi Ferrell and Justin James to take on a bigger role for Sacramento.
That Carmelo guy
After being left out of the league for almost a year, Anthony is back, signing a one-year league minimum deal that becomes fully guaranteed if he's still on the roster on Jan. 7. Anthony instantly stepped into a starting role with the Blazers and is averaging 16.4 points and six rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game.
A 10-time All-Star, the 35-year-old Anthony is providing a third scorer behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. He's looked better than expected, even winning a Western Conference Player of the Week award.
Old faces, new places
Portland has a group of former Kings bigs on their roster this season. Skal Labissiere is playing rotational minutes as a backup five, Anthony Tolliver is seeing time as a stretch four and Hassan Whiteside is anchoring the starting center position. Labissiere played together in Sacramento during the 2016-17 season. Whiteside was drafted by the Kings in 2010 and spent his first two seasons in the league in Sacramento.
In addition to Labissiere, Tolliver and Whiteside, Zach Collins and Gary Trent were both drafted by Sacramento and traded to Portland on draft night. Caleb Swanigan played for the Blazers for his first season and a half in the league and was acquired by the Kings in the trade that sent Labissiere to Portland. Harry Giles was drafted by Portland and traded to Sacramento on draft night with Justin Jackson for Collins.
What could have been
McCollum has found a home in Portland, spending his first seven seasons in the NBA playing alongside Lillard. The two form one of the most dynamic scoring backcourts in the league, but it almost didn't work out this way.
The Kings brought McCollum in for three separate workouts during the phase leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft. McCollum has said multiple times that he believed that the Kings would select him with the seventh overall pick. At the last minute, Sacramento went a different direction, taking Ben McLemore instead and the rest is history. McCollum went to Portland with the 10th overall selection and has averaged over 20 points per game in each of the last five seasons.
During the 2012 draft, Lillard was on the board when the Kings selected at No. 5 overall. Like McCollum, there were strong indications the Kings would choose him on draft night, but Thomas Robinson fell out of the top four and the Kings changed their path. Lillard went with the sixth overall pick and has gone on to make four All-Star teams and has a career scoring average of 23.6 points per game.
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The Ultimate Equalizer
The Kings flew up to Portland on Tuesday afternoon and were settled into their hotel rooms with plenty of time to turn on the TV and watch the Blazers playing the Clippers in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. There is no word on what time the Trail Blazers made it back home after losing to the Clippers, but the Kings are the more rested team.