The Portland Trail Blazers led the Sacramento Kings most of the night, but couldn't overcome their case of the fumbles, coming up short in the final seconds. With no LaMarcus Aldridge or Jamal Crawford, we got an expanded look at the young guys.
The Blazers were led by the hot-shooting Wesley Matthews, who hit 8-10 from three for 31 points. Raymond Felton (19 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers) and Nicolas Batum (14 points) also played key roles. In his return to Sacramento, JJ Hickson finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds). Jonny Flynn (9 points and a team-leading 5 assists) and Luke Babbitt (9 points) both showed a few nice plays.
This game started with a "thud" for Sacramento, as the fans saw both a quick 8 point deficit, and even worse, the Maloofs. The defensive highlight for the Kings happened when they all moved out of the lane, and watched Felton drive from the three point line for a layup. The Blazers led by 6 after one.
Hot three-point shooting kept the Blazers ahead through the second quarter. Portland turnovers helped Sacramento make a run, but the Blazer bench had a nice run, and an 8 point halftime lead.
The Blazer lead reached double figures, but more turnovers helped the Kings climb back into the game. Some more Blazer three's (mostly from Matthews) pushed the lead back up, then the Kings came right back again. If these teams were playing for playoff position, it would have been exciting. Matthews hit two late free throws to cap a 19 point quarter and keep the Blazers in the lead, by 2 after three.
The fourth quarter started with another Blazer three pointer, from Flynn. From there, Hickson, Flynn and Batum had a nice run to rebuild an 8 point lead. 2 minutes later, an 8-0 Kings run tied the game, as they realized they could leak downcourt after a miss and the Portland guards weren't defending. The Kings received three straight opportunities, arguably gifts, to take the lead, and could not take advantage. However, the fourth try was the charm, as they took their first lead with 3 minutes left. Felton tied it up, ending a 4 minute Blazer scoring drought. Still tied at the 2 minute mark, Felton's jumper gave Portland the lead again. Two FT's from Tyreke Evans tied the game with 40 seconds left. Raymond pulled a "Felton Special" to give Sacramento back the ball, and DeMarcus Cousins scored with 10 seconds to go. The on-fire Matthews took a step-back three for the lead... swish. But in turn, Marcus Thornton hit a mid-range jumper to pull off the win.
Check out the box score if you must, and stay tuned for Dave's recap. Only 24 hours off, as the Blazers are on the court tomorrow night in Phoenix. -- Tim