Much-needed win for the Blazers highlights Sacramento’s Boogie problem

Chris Arneson | Evergreen columnist

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With point guard Damian Lillard waiting in the wings, sidelined by an ankle sprain,  the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Sacramento Kings 102-89 in front of a capacity crowd of 19,665 Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

The Trail Blazers (14-20), losers of six-consecutive games entering Wednesday, saw a variety of contributions from both starters and reserves fuel a balanced offensive attack and hold their opponent under 100 points for the third time in the last four games.

Lillard watched from the bench in a dapper grey suit while forward Allen Crabbe, who started in the absence of Portland’s All Star, gave the Blazers 33 efficient minutes, posting 13 points and shooting 3-4 from behind the arc.

Guard C.J. McCollum, last year’s Most Improved Player, provided volume shooting while running the point in Lillard’s absence, leading the team in scoring and dishing out seven assists

Forward Meyers Leonard also provided Portland with a spark off the bench, as the 24-year-old seven-footer from Illinois tossed in three treys, grabbed five boards and rattled Kings center Demarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins’ cage. Fellow forward Maurice Harkless electrified the sellout crowd a couple times, slamming home a pair of alley-oops off a cut to the basket from the baseline.

From Sacramento’s (14-18) perspective, their team ebbs and flows Cousins goes, waxing poetically to the referees or anyone who will lend him an ear. Although the 6-11 teddy bear poured in 28 points, snatched eight rebounds, and recorded six assists, his general demeanor sets the tone for the Kings squad as a whole. On Wednesday, Cousins was in the officials’ ears all night received a chorus of boos from the fans whenever he touched the ball.

The Kings have been in shambles ever since they selected Cousins with the fifth-overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Dave Joerger is the sixth head coach Boogie has played for in Sacramento, a statistic that no player in the league desires, especially one who has been criticized for his maturity issues from the get-go.

For Sacramento to turn the direction of the franchise around, it appears inevitable that it will have to trade away cousins, who is under contract through next season, for a collection of young players with high ceilings and first round draft picks.

That statement sounds Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith-esque, but it’s the first step, albeit a difficult one, the Kings must make in order to become a playoff contender.

Cousins is arguably the best center in the league, but he plays basketball like a child in a candy shop whose mother just cut off his supply of lollipops. Cousins would thrive with a franchise such as Boston, where its head coach Brad Stevens maintains a steady courtside presence and ownership is committed to winning.

If all else fails, E! needs to greenlight a reality television show called “Boogie Nights: The Ballad of Demarcus Cousins.”