Kings-Trail Blazers Preview
The Portland Trail Blazers are already eager to be back at home
after a disappointing trip. Facing a winless road opponent is even
The Trail Blazers begin a six-game homestand Saturday night when
they try to drop the Sacramento Kings to 0-7 on the road.
Portland (8-11) went 2-5 on a trip that ended with Wednesday’s
99-92 loss to Indiana. Rookie Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers
with 23 points.
There was room for optimism since the defeat came on the heels
of thrilling wins against Cleveland and Charlotte that both went
past regulation. Lillard scored 24 points in each of those
“I liked the way our guys finished the road trip, I liked the
way we competed, got some of the young guys involved off the
bench,” coach Terry Stotts said. “So I thought there were things
that were good but I don’t think any of us were necessarily
satisfied being 2-5. You wanted to get one or two more on the
Lillard, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, continues to lead
all rookies with 19.3 points per game. He’s scored at least 20 in
three straight games for the first time since he made a splash by
doing so in his first three contests.
“Everything is going kind of smoother than I thought it would,”
Lillard said. “That’s just what it is. I never really said I’m just
going to come in and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I felt I
was going to be productive, I just didn’t know how productive.”
Sacramento (6-12) comes to town enduring its worst road start
since going 0-9 to begin 2007-08. The Kings have dropped six of
their last seven at the Rose Garden.
Currently, though, they are on a bit of an upswing and can post
their first three-game win streak of the season after beating 91-82
over Orlando on Friday. DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 14
rebounds while reserve guard Isaiah Thomas added 17 points.
Starting guard Tyreke Evans didn’t play for the third time in
four games with a sore right knee. Francisco Garcia made his first
start of the season in place of Evans.
Evans, who totaled 13 points on 4 of 18 shooting in Sacramento’s
two losses at Portland last season, is questionable for Saturday’s
game. His absence could be critical since he could again face off
That matchup proved to be a mismatch the first time these teams
met as Lillard outscored Evans 22-10 in a 103-86 road victory Nov.
13. Lillard also had nine assists compared to four for Evans.
Cousins, who has three double-doubles his last four games,
missed that contest due to suspension.
Although the Kings successfully used a smaller lineup in the
fourth quarter Friday, don’t expect to see it against the
“The lineup that Orlando used allowed me to do that rotation
tonight,” coach Keith Smart said. “They didn’t look to post up
their guards. In tomorrow’s game, Portland will post up their twos
and threes, so there may not be a situation like that.”
It’s unclear if Portland forward Nicolas Batum will be available
after he sat out part of Friday’s practice with a back strain
suffered against the Pacers.