Kings-Trail Blazers Preview

LaMarcus Aldridge vowed to be more aggressive for the Portland

Trail Blazers after they suffered some devastating injuries in the

offseason. He was true to his word in their opener.

Aldridge and the Trail Blazers look to improve to 2-0 when they

host the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

After Portland learned Brandon Roy was forced to retire because

of recurring knee problems and that Greg Oden, a former No. 1

overall pick, suffered a setback following another microfracture

surgery on his knees, it was clear Aldridge would be the new face

of the Trail Blazers.

Aldridge, who averaged 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds last season,

got off to a strong start in Portland’s 107-103 win over

Philadelphia on Monday, finishing with 25 points, seven rebounds,

three steals and three blocked shots.

Despite the injuries, the Blazers actually consider their depth

a strength this season. Jamal Crawford, signed in the offseason to

come off the bench, finished with 12 points, four rebounds, four

assists and four steals in just under 22 minutes against the

76ers.

“We have a lot of weapons,” Aldridge said. “I think as times

got tight for us, guys stepped up and made big plays.”

Aldridge and the Blazers will continue a three-game,

season-opening homestand against Sacramento, which is feeling good

in its own right after opening its 2011-12 season Monday with a

100-91 home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Marcus Thornton scored 27 points and Tyreke Evans added 20 for

the Kings, who held the Lakers to 42.0 percent shooting overall and

40 points in the first half, but nearly saw a 14-point

third-quarter lead evaporate.

“We stayed the course,” Thornton said. “We didn’t get riled up.

When they were making that run, we shot a couple of quick shots. We

got back to doing what we do best.”

Thornton, who signed a four-year, $33 million contract in the

offseason, averaged 21.3 points in 27 games for Sacramento in

2010-11, blossoming in a bigger role after the Kings acquired the

shooting guard from New Orleans, where he’d scored just 7.8 points

per game off the bench. The Kings are looking for him to form a

solid backcourt tandem with Evans.

Ankle injuries limited Evans to 57 games last season – his

second in the league after he averaged 20.1 points as a rookie.

Evans shot just 40.9 percent from the field last season, but went 6

for 13 on Monday.

Sacramento, which finished with the second-worst record in the

Western Conference last season despite winning three of its first

four, is playing its first four games all against teams that

reached the playoffs in 2010-11.

Portland has won nine of 10 meetings with Sacramento since the

start of the 2008-09 season, with the only loss in that span a

96-81 defeat at the Rose Garden last Jan. 24.