Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica posted excellent performances this Tuesday night. They helped their Sacramento Kings beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 107-99, and pass this rival on the Western Conference standings.
Instead of taking one step forward and continuing with the performances from the previous campaign once they reached the Western Conference finals, the Portland Trail Blazers are currently in the hole. Lillard, McCollum, and the rest of the guys added another defeat to their account. And the guys who are the most deserved for that were Serbian internationals Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica.
Bogi dropped 25 points had 10 assists and 4 steals, shooting 8 fo 19 all that off the bench in 31 minutes. Meanwhile, Bjelica had 19 points and 12 boards, adding 4 assists and hitting 8 of his 14 shots.
The especially important was his three-pointer with 2:37 to go, once he rebuffed Portland’s surge and brought back the Kings to 101-93.
Hosts were losing three points at the halftime, but went out in the third period, and outscored the guests 35-21, with all of their players contributing as a team in those moments. The Blazers would try to come back, and the only thing they did was cutting the deficit to 5 points, after Anfernee Simons scored from downtown with 2:51 to go.
Trail Blazers opened the game well and quickly reached a double-digit lead 18-8, but they couldn’t keep it for too long. They would, however, constantly be ahead in the second, but without a chance to pull away or make some run due to Kings’ solid shooting.
“I felt we should have a bigger lead at the halftime,” Terry Stotts, Blazers’ coach, stated following the game. “Third quarter got away from us defensively. We had some trouble with matchups.”
Bogdanovic took the responsibility of replacing injured De’Aaron Fox, and the did it in the best possible way. He not only scored points, but was there to assist, and to defend well.
“We are a really high-quality scoring team. We missed a couple of shots, but we know when we start making them, we got it,” Bogi told the reporters. “I try to make the right play every single time. If I’m not open, I know someone else will be. They got to help from somewhere.”
What also just a few noticed is that the Kings handled their opponents very well on defense. Damian Lillard was six points below his average, although he had 13 points from the free-throw line. Part of that goes to Bogdanovic.
“What got him going tonight was his defense. He was in there getting deflections. He has great basketball instincts and really long arms,” Kings’ coach Luke Walton said.
Bjelica was there to cover up the absence of the last year’s second pick, Marvin Bagley, who is out because of a broken thumb. Beli was excellent, and the only question which stands is whether he could repeat this on a nightly basis for a longer period.
Since starting the season awfully with five consecutive losses, the Kings have 4 wins and just one defeat, and are two games away from the playoff spot. Furthermore, they are better than the Trail Blazers, who are 4-7.
Buddy Hield didn’t have his usual shooting night, but he did reach 20 points, even though making just 2 threes in 11 tries. Harrison Barnes had 16 buckets.
For the guests, Lillard scored 27 points, but had only 10 shots from the field, with 5 turnovers. Now, that tells you a lot about the defense he was going against. McCollum ended the game with 24, Hassan Whiteside 17. Trail Blazers score just 8 three-pointers in 30 attempts.
Up next the Trail Blazers are meeting with the Toronto Raptors this Wednesday, while Kings travel to Los Angeles to play against the Lakers.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.