Trail Blazers vs Kings Monday, 10/15/12 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Look To Bounce Back in Sacramento

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 4.0

    Through two games, the performance of the Portland Trail Blazers (1-1) has been one of extremes. The Trail Blazers will try to even out their exhibition season in Sacramento against the Kings (1-0 in preseason) on Monday night. Tipoff is schedule for 7 PM on 1190 KEX.

    Last season, the Trail Blazers and Kings split the season series with both teams holding serve on their home floor. The Kings have one of the league’s most talented young players in DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged 18.1 points and 11 rebounds last year. Sacramento drafted Thomas Robinson, a dynamic athlete and rebounder, oout of Kansas to aid Cousins in the front court. Isaiah Thomas was one of the biggest surprises last year after being picked last in the draft and eventually became a starter as well as one of the league’s best rookie guards.

    Thomas’ emergence also allowed the Kings to move Tyreke Evans off the ball.  After putting up worse numbers every year since his rookie year, Evans is in need of a solid year to prove people he can play near the level he was at in 2010. 

    In the offseason, the Kings added former Oregon Duck Aaron Brooks to an already guard and scoring heavy backcourt. The Kings started three guards often toward the end of the 2011-12 season, usually with Thomas at the point with Evans and Marcus Thornton, Sacramento's leading scorer last season, on the wing. However, it remains to be seen if the many guards they have, individually or collectively, can help bring the once proud franchise from the abyss of the Western Conference. Also, the Kings were 29th out of 30 teams in Defensive Rating last season, a statistic that measures how many points are allowed per 100 possessions.

    While the Kings may have too many cooks in their backcourt kitchen, the Trail Blazers will face the opposite problem. With Ronnie Price (sprained right ankle) out for Monday night's game, head coach Terry Stotts' only options at point guard are rookie Damian Lillard and Nolan Smith, and even Smith has played much of his minutes in preseason off the ball.

    JJ Hickson will be making his return from injury after missing the Phoenix game against his former team. This will be the first preseason game for Will Barton, who missed the first two due to a hamstring injury. It will also be the first game for Justin Holliday, whom the Trail Blazers signed on Friday.

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This photo: Hickson Flies In For Two / put this photo on your page

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