Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE
In a yo-yo kind of game, the Portland Trail Blazers led by 15 early, gave it all back, only to dominate the Sacramento Kings. Without DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, the Kings held down the paint, but had no answer for the Blazers' hot shooting and a certain rookie point guard.
The Blazers were led by a dominant Damian Lillard, who finished with 22 points and 9 assists. Wesley Matthews (18 points) and Nicolas Batum (15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) had good nights, and JJ Hickson added to his double-double tally with 10 points and 13 boards. LaMarcus Aldridge, hampered by a sore wrist, turned it on late for a solid night, adding 19 points and 5 rebounds.
The Blazers opened the first quarter similar to how the Hawks did last night: Shutting down their opponent and racking up points. As a bonus, the three-ball was falling. The Blazers took an early 15 point lead in front of raining boos from the crowd. Then the Blazer bench came in. Eight straight Sacramento points (and an ugly Ronnie Price three-pointer) later, the quarter ended with a 25-18 Blazer lead.
The Price is wrong, bench!
The Blazer bench continued to hemorrhage points, while Blazer Broadcasting helped by using part of the screen for random Twitter folks who want the Blazers to win. Jimmer Fredette personally outscored the Blazer bench, 10-7. By the time Damian Lillard returned to the game, the entire 15 point lead vanished in demoralizing fashion. The starters tried to make a push, but the Kings were now re-energized. Up by 6 with three seconds left, the Blazer starters allowed the Kings to stroll all the way to the hoop, and dunk at the buzzer. They slowly walked to the locker room, up four.
Only we could make a DeMarcus Cousinless lineup look good.
Within the first two minutes of the third quarter, the game was tied. They also increasingly focused on Lillard, attempting to force the ball from his hands. Meanwhile, on the other end, the Kings were enjoying a layup drill. At one point, Hickson had his back to the ball, allowing a player to drive right by for two free points. 80% of Sacramento's points had come from inside the paint.The Kings took a 4 point lead, but that woke up the starters. and Sacramento needed a timeout. The Kings came back out shooting jumpers, and Lillard personally took control. He broke down the defense, fed assists, and hit three-pointers. His one-man wrecking machine left the Kings in the dust of a 19-2 Blazer run. Another Lillard three (in Fredette's face) gave the Blazers a 16 point lead after three. The buzzer sounds as the starstruck Kings announcing crew compared Lillard to Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
That is just unfair. It’s like Lillard is mocking Jimmer by sticking long threes in his face.
The fourth quarter began with a drive and thunder dunk by Batum, quieting the crowd. Soon, the lead was 20 as the bench mixed with the starters. After using the three-pointer to establish the lead, the Blazers moved inside, getting Aldridge free throws by posting against Chuck Hayes. The Kings made their last push with 6 minutes left, down 20, but three-pointers from Sasha Pavlovic and Ronnie Price nipped it in the bud. Soon, Nolan Smith and Luke Babbitt enjoyed a few minutes of court time, as the starters relaxed until the buzzer.
Stay tuned for Dave's analysis shortly. The next game is Friday night, at home against the Rockets. -- Tim
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