NBA Hoops: Nine points for Casspi in Kings' preseason opening loss to Blazers

NBA Hoops Nine points f

By
October 8, 2009 06:19
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Omri Casspi was pleased with his performance in his first preseason game for the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, despite seeing the team lose 98-86 at the Portland Trail Blazers. The 21-year-old Israeli hit all four of his shots, scoring nine points and grabbing two rebounds in nine minutes on court. Casspi, who was selected by the Kings with the 23rd pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, is expected to become the first Israeli to play in the world's richest basketball league when the season tips off at the end of the month. "Of course I was slightly nervous before the start of the game, but once you are on the court you are focused on playing," said the former Maccabi Tel Aviv forward, who entered the game in the fourth period. "All in all I had a good game, but that is not important as the team lost." It was also the preseason debut of new Kings coach Paul Westphal, who took over in the offseason. Sacramento went 17-65 last season. Westphal hasn't coached in the NBA since 2001, but has 22 years of coaching experience and led the Phoenix Suns to the 1993 NBA finals. "I'm encouraged by some things, I'm discouraged by some things, but in general it was a good first step," he said. "I thought that when I look at what happened last year against the Blazers, they were the best rebounding team in basketball and the Kings were the worst… Tonight we outrebounded them; I'll take that every game of the year." Rookie Tyreke Evans started for the Kings after bruising his left knee at the start of training camp. The fourth overall pick from Memphis had 12 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes. Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson also had 12 points apiece for Sacramento. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points for Portland and Andre Miller, signed as a free agent in the offseason, came off the bench to score 16 and heat up the competition with Steve Blake for Portland's starting point guard spot. The Blazers won 54 games last season as the second-youngest team in the NBA. They fiddled with their roster a bit in the offseason, adding experience in Miller and Juwan Howard, and are hoping to take the next step after returning to the postseason. The teams met again Wednesday night in Sacramento. AP contributed to this report.

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