When the Portland Trail Blazers faced the Sacramento Kings tonight, Damian Lillard because the second Portland guard to score 50 points in three quarters this season, joining CJ McCollum in the ultra-rare feat. Thanks to Lillard’s big performance, Portland cruised past the Kings on the second night of a back-to-back, earning an easy 118-100 victory. Lillard dazzled throughout the night, only getting as the game went on. Sacramento had no hope of keeping pace.
Watch Stuck on Dame Time
After a slow start the Blazers got things going on offense thanks to easy looks generated by steals from Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless. Lillard announced his presence by pouring in baskets from outside. He took full advantage of De’Aaron Fox’s inexperience by putting up 14 points in the first quarter. The Kings managed to keep pace by winning the rebounding battle inside, which resulted in a 10-0 second-chance point margin. Behind Lillard’s hot shooting, the Blazers still finished the first quarter ahead 33-31.
The Kings continued to look for points inside as the second quarter got underway. Zach Collins seemed helpless against the sturdy Kosta Koufos in the paint. The 28-year-old veteran feasted on the rookie for 10 points on just 6 shots. Portland’s guards countered Sacramento’s attack with relentless outside shooting. Shabazz Napier went 2-2 from deep, and Lillard emerged from the bench with the same effectiveness he had in the first. The Blazers finished the quarter with a 62-52 lead thanks to s second 14-point quarter from Lillard.
Kings Rally Comes Up Short
Sacramento methodically cut into Portland’s lead through the first six minutes of the third. Four straight points from Zach Randolph brought the score to 75-74 with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter. Once again Portland called upon Lillard to rescue them, and he answered by sparking a 17-0 run. Lillard was responsible for 15 of the 17 on his own, finishing with an an impressive 22 points in the quarter. The Blazers closed the period up 92-74.
With Lillard already sitting at 50 points and a large lead in hand, coach Terry Stotts elected to start the fourth quarter with the second unit on the court. A trio of triples from Buddy Hield cut Portland’s lead to 14 points, and nearly triggered Lillard’s return. Shabazz Napier closed the door on the Kings, though, with a three-pointer of his own at the 3:51 mark. Despite Hield’s big quarter, the Blazers were still able to empty their bench in the final moments of the double-digit road victory.
Perimeter Play Makes The Difference
The Blazers managed to level the rebounding battle and finished ahead in points in the paint overall, but they trailed in both categories for an extended amount of time. Thanks to Lillard’s stellar performance, Portland was able to overcome Sacramento’s interior play and control the game. The Blazers caused problems on the defensive end by playing tenaciously on the perimeter. Portland’s wing players did an excellent job filling the passing lanes and bothering ball handlers, resulting in 10 steals.
You Better Send Help
Damian Lillard took full advantage of George Hill’s departure by absolutely torching the twine. He got better and better as the game went on. A stellar 8-for-13 performance from beyond the arc laid the foundation for his 50-point final total. He chipped in 6 assists and 3 steals as well.
CJ McCollum couldn’t get going against the Kings. Portland’s offense struggled with Lillard off the court, and McCollum’s 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting was proof of that.
It wasn’t pretty for any of Portland’s big men inside tonight, but Jusuf Nurkic’s output was especially ugly. The big fella looked a step slow on the second night of a back-to-back, which paved the way for Sacramento’s success in the paint. Nurkic finished the night with 6 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
Shabazz Napier shot perfectly from the field, recording 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting. His work in the fourth quarter thwarted the Kings’ attempt to cut into the Blazers’ double-digit lead down the stretch.
Our friends at Sactown Royalty can hang their hat on having seven players in double figures.
The Blazers will enjoy a day of rest before hosting the Jazz on Sunday.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com