The Blazers were led by the usual suspects of LaMarcus Aldridge (a clutch 20 points, 7 rebounds), Damian Lillard (22 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds), Wesley Matthews (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and Nicolas Batum (14 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds), but the other guys played an important role tonight. Thomas Robinson (10 points, 4 rebounds in 12 minutes) had a solid night against the team that traded him after half of a rookie season. And in his return, Joel Freeland (4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks) paid dividends immediately, making a difference off the bench.
For Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins (35 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals) showed how dominant he can be, personally keeping the game close to the end. And former Blazer Travis Outlaw added 10 points and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes.
First Half: It was a half of strong offense, and less strong defense. Portland stayed in front for most of the half, using their hot three-point shooting combined with some nice inside play. Even though Matthews was the high scorer, a first half highlight was the return of Freeland, who immediately assisted on a three-pointer off an offensive rebound. Soon after, he posterized Outlaw by blocking Travis' own attempt at a posterization. The Blazers held a 10 point lead late in the half, but immediately gave up 7 quick points to the Kings to keep the game close.
Portland 54, Sacramento 49
BBIQ on display there by Freeland:
Made the block, pg directed him to the post, he established position and kicked it out for 3. Boxed out, got the o board and kicked out out again to a wide open Wright for the 3. Very simple but also very telling.
by Moosen PDX
Third Quarter: The Blazers took advantage of Sacramento's weaknesses on defense, jumping to a double-digit lead quickly in the second half. For the rest of the quarter, DeMarcus Cousins tried to help pull the Kings back into the game, at one point scoring (plus a foul) against a Blazer quadruple team. Nonetheless, Sacramento's fouling tendencies held them back, as the Blazers set up camp at the foul line. Meanwhile, their shots were not falling. The double-digit lead held through the end of the quarter.
Portland 77, Sacramento 67
I love how [Thomas] Robinson is taking the challange of guarding the opposing team's center.
Fourth Quarter: The Kings started another comeback, but were held back by Freeland, who was involved in the first 5 Blazer points. Portland held serve until they got sloppy. Suddenly, they handed the ball to the Kings twice for free layups, and the lead was down to six. The Blazers quickly called timeout. Three seconds after the timeout, Robin Lopez dunked the ball. The teams played to a standstill, with Cousins personally keeping the Kings within reach. You just can't stop Aldridge though, who swished four fadeaways to push the Blazer lead back to 12 with less than three minutes remaining. Sloppy Portland turnovers kept the game close down the stretch, but the Kings didn't have the firepower to make a sustained run, and the Blazers headed to Sacramento looking for a sweep tomorrow night.
Let's do this again tomorrow night in Sacramento! But in the meantime, stay tuned for Dave's Analysis and Ben's Media Row Report. -- Tim