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Portland pounds Sacramento in Rose Garden return

  1. Written by: KevinHudson

    Jamal Crawford led the way with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting as Portland (10-7) defeated the Sacramento Kings 101-89 Saturday night in front of 20,363 at the Rose Garden.

    After a stretch of games where Crawford's shooting wasn't up to his career numbers and expectations, it turns out he just needed a little encouragement.

    Part of the problem was that he was still trying to fit in to the Trail Blazers system, maybe even trying to be something he's not. He was deferring or hesitating at times, rather than attacking.

    Every person he talked to after the disappointments of recent shooting performances told him the same thing: just play.

    "Talking to coach McMillan, talking to LaMarcus, talking to Ray, Larry Miller, all those guys - just play...You can't try to fit in, that's not why we brought you here," Crawford said. "It was a fresh start. I cleared my head and said this is day one all over again...I'm just playing. I'm just hooping. Good or bad, I'm just going to be aggressive and be the person I have been my whole career."

    That aggression came in handy Monday, as Trail Blazers top scorer LaMarcus Aldridge started slowly, going 0-for-4 and held scoreless until late in the second quarter.

    By then Jamal's 16 points, combined with 15 first-half points from Gerald Wallace, had helped Portland establish an eight point lead that would grow to 15 points by the break.

    "I definitely didn't have it in the first half," Aldridge said. "Jamal, Craig, Gerald, those guys played big tonight."

    First-half foul trouble for the entire Portland frontcourt, combined with a groin injury to Marcus Camby, meant more than 21 minutes for Smith and he didn't disappoint, tallying 10 points while grabbing a season-high seven rebounds to help the Trail Blazers win the rebound battle over the Kings 53-36.

    Aldridge was even bigger on the boards with his shots not falling, grabbing a game-high 16 boards to go with 13 points and five assists.

    Asked what he feels Smith brings to the court, Aldridge smiled.

    "Oh, man. For me, he brings rest, he brings me much needed rest," Aldridge said, then added: "We can put him out there and he can post up and he runs well for his position, too."

    Six Portland players would score in double figures, led by Crawford's season-high 26 points and followed by Wallace with 20 points and eight rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting. The forward has converted better than 50 percent of his shots every time he takes the court at the Rose Garden this season, going 64-of-99 from the floor at home.

    "Even with the taped finger, I though he shot the ball well.," McMillan said. "I thought he played a solid game. His energy and his disruption on the defensive end created some offense for us. Whenever he's done that we've been pretty good."

    The Portland lead grew to as many as 22 points in the second half before eventually shrinking to the final margin.

    Sacramento (6-12) was led by center DeMarcus Cousins with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas dished a game-high eight assists while tallying 11 points.

    Portland will host the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday, 7 p.m., (CSN, 750 AM The Game) before hitting the road for the last of three games in as many nights at the Golden State Warriors Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. (KGW, 750 AM The Game).

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