Long Story Short: The Blazers dispose of the Kings, once again containing Sacramento's key scorers while riding 28 points from Brandon Roy and 21 points courtesy of Kings' turnovers to the perfunctory victory.
This was another of those outings you want against a struggling opponent, where the only real story is that there wasn't a story. Any hopes the Kings might have had of exacting revenge for Tuesday's loss were thrown away in the first quarter right along with the ball. Sacramento couldn't get out of its own way, allowing the Blazers extra opportunities off of miscues, offensive rebounds, and at the foul line. Though the Blazers did allow the Kings to shoot over 50% overall they did a masterful job of limiting the touches of Carl Landry and Tyreke Evans. Landry ended up with 18 on the night but most of that came after the game was already decided. Evans had but 10 points on 4-12 shooting. Those four makes were impressive, as he owned Portland on the drive. But Nicolas Batum and friends once again made sure he spent most of his time on the perimeter. He had 4 assists, none horribly memorable. He also had 5 turnovers. The cost was guys like Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih getting points, but they couldn't generate enough to keep up with the Blazers.
One of the big reasons Portland's lead proved insurmountable was Brandon Roy. He scored 28 on the evening, exactly as much as Evans and Landry combined. He had another ultra-efficient outing, shooting 10-13, 2-2 from distance, 6-6 from the line. Unlike the Golden State game he didn't have to dominate the ball to get those numbers, leaving plenty of shots (and wide open space) for Aldridge, Miller, Fernandez, and Bayless. All of those players, plus Batum, reached double figures tonight. This game continued the theme of the season: If you don't guard the Blazers they are going to beat you. They have too much skill and Portland's players are unselfish enough to find whatever holes you leave. It's when you bust the Blazers in the chops and make them push through you that the success rate lowers. Sacramento couldn't come close to doing that tonight.
Portland once again made a killing at the free throw line, hitting 29-32 from the stripe to Sacramento's 12-19. That's a +17 margin in a 16-point victory. As pointed out above, turnovers were another huge issue with Sacramento committing 20 to Portland's 9. The Kings had more points in the paint (+12) but once again the Blazers kept the fast break margin small, losing that battle by 3 points. This has been typical of Portland lately and it's making their games easier.
Roy's night was explained above. That's two superb outings for him in a row, though not against the defensive titans of the league, obviously.
LaMarcus Aldridge notched 18 on 8-17 shooting. Switching up the story arc, he started out slow and produced more as the game went along, perhaps because Roy's attention-drawing offense made life easier for him. He certainly wasn't facing hot double teams tonight.
Andre Miller had another fierce driving night, going 4-10 from the floor but 7-7 from the foul line for 15 points in 28 minutes. He was partially responsible for Evans' tough night as well, not so much defensively but in making Tyreke pay attention to him. One thing we haven't mentioned enough about Miller this season is that he's a stressful cover. He bullies you, drives past you, and makes passes around you. The only thing you're not afraid of is him shooting over you but he masks that pretty well because he knows what he's doing and knows how to get into your head. Evans looked like he was playing defense by the numbers tonight but Miller is capable of switching the numbers. That makes you concentrate more, leaving less time to worry about waltzing down the lane for amazing layups.
Nicolas Batum showed early that he was focused for this game. He came out in the first quarter playing surgical defense, helping the Blazers to build a lead they'd never relinquish. He played 23 minutes, went 4-6 from the field, and scored 11 with 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Marcus Camby was launching shots like an antique trebuchet again tonight but at least he only took a couple jumpers, ending up 1-3 for 2 points. He had 7 rebounds and a block in 24 minutes. If you're noticing a theme of reduced minutes tonight you'd be correct.
Rudy Fernandez tied for the most minutes off the bench with 27. His three-point shot was on tonight, quickly putting the kibosh on any Sacramento designs to gain ground while the second unit was in (this despite that unit struggling early on defense again). Rudy had 10 points and 2 steals.
Jerryd Bayless matched Fernandez with 10 points but needed only 15 minutes to manage them. His claim to fame was going 6-7 from the foul line. Nobody benefits more from bad defense than Jerryd. He knows just what to do: take it hard and dare them to do something about it. It may seem obvious but this is an underrated quality...one frequently absent in other Portland players.
Juwan Howard had 8 points in 27 minutes spelling Camby. He had 4 personal fouls including a flagrant grabby-arm thing that typifies his "I'm tired" aura as of late. The rest next week will probably do him good.
Martell Webster has to be discouraged seeing only 14 minutes in a blowout. He managed 3 rebounds and 3 assists plus 1-3 shooting and 2 points in that span.
Dante Cunningham was a whirlwind in 9 minutes, perhaps explaining Webster's lack of time. He was bumping, leaping, and even threw down a monster dunk, going 2-3 for 4 points. Have I mentioned that I like this kid?
Travis Diener and Jeff Pendergraph got 2 minutes apiece. JP had 2 rebounds and a foul. Diener had an assist.
This was mission accomplished for this road trip. The next two teams Portland faces at home don't play defense either, so one might hope for a nice four-game streak heading into the ever-so-tough end of the month. Toronto is next. If we keep up this workmanlike progress there should be no worries.
You might find dejection or just acceptance at SactownRoyalty. Be sure to compliment them on that Evans kid. Also ask them what their plans are for Beno Udrih.
You can find your Jersey Contest scores for the evening over here and enter Sunday's game right there. Norsktroll is currently leading. That will never do. A chocolate-bacon Voodoo Doughnut to whoever knocks him off of the perch.