Trail Blazers vs Kings Tuesday, 11/13/12 AT 07:00PM

Portland Snaps 4-Game Losing Streak, Defeating Kings 103-86

11/13/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Portland finally stopped the trend of having to overcome big deficits in Sacramento on their way to a 103-86 win against the Kings. The win snaps a four-game losing streak. Damian Lillard led the way for the Trail Blazers with 22 points and nine assists. Along with Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 points despite playing through a wrist injury on his dominant hand that was he was favoring throughout the night.

    Lillard struggled last night, no bones about it. He had his worst game of the season against the Hawks and bounced back with a fantastic game to lead his team to a much-needed win. He was on from the very early going, scoring eight of Portland's first nine points, setting the tone for the night. A night after going five for 18 for 12 points and only totaling 2 assists with a +/- of -20, Lillard continued to "play his game" as he so often says.

    Lillard was extremely efficient from the field and was masterful at pulling the strings of Coach Stotts' offense. Lillard shot seven of 10 from the field including five of six from beyond the three point line and a +/- of +25. Lillard's attitude seems to never change no matter how he plays from a night-to-night basis. Tonight was the first time we've seen him respond after having a bad game the night before, something the greats all go through and tonight we saw his response to adversity: he just keeps working.

    "I thought he took what was there," said Stotts about his young point guard. "When you make your shots, it's always impressive but I thought he had a good floor game too."

    The Trail Blazers jumped out on their opponents from the jump.  The lead got to as big as 15 with under 3 minutes left in the first, however, the Kings stormed back to cut the lead to five by the end of the first. Aldridge played the first 14 minutes of the game without rest and hit three of his five field goals on the evening in that first period.

    Aldridge's shots from the field were definitely off as his wrist injury seemed like it was affecting not only his release, but his ability to effectively rebound and patrol the paint. Despite the injury, Aldridge pulled through for his team, had five rebounds and two blocks, including one with his injured hand. He didn't shoot well from the field, going five of fourteen but led the Trail Blazers in free-throw attempts with 10, hitting nine. Aldridge also played the most minutes of anyone on the team with 37. Even if he shoots poorly, Aldridge's mere presence on the floor makes the team better.

    "The game goes through him on the block. We're a better team when he's on the floor," said Stotts.

    Stotts credited Aldridge with setting good screens, something the Trail Blazers had emphasized after last night's loss.

    In the second quarter, the Kings continued to inch closer after Portland had briefly extended the lead with Aldridge on the floor. They were breaking down Portland's defense with penetration off the dribble and were in the paint far too often. Sacramento cut the lead to two at halftime and it felt like Portland should have been ahead by more.

    As the second half began, it seemed that the game was going to get away from the Trail Blazers. The Kings even took a four point lead at the seven minute mark of the third quarter. A turnaround jumper by Aldridge, a three by Wesley Matthews and a turnaround in the paint from JJ Hickson gave Portland the lead back at 55-54 with 6:00 left. Portland never relinquished the lead.

    Matthews, like nearly all of the Trail Blazers, had a much more efficient shooting night going six of nine for 18 points. Portland shot 52% (14-for-27) from the three-point line and the outside shot buried the Kings. Hickson had his fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds as he continued to bring the extra energy Portland needed. Hickson also helped the Trail Blazers earn a +11 rebound advantage over Sacramento. Nicolas Batum did not extend his streak of three consecutive games with 19+ points but had a sensational stat line of 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists despite going two of eight from the three-point line.

    With 4:09 left in the third quarter, the Trail Blazers broke the game open when Jared Jeffries came in the game for the tired and injured Aldridge. Portland's defensive rotations were crisper as Jeffries brought great communication and awareness. Portland got stops and ran the Kings out of their own building as they extended the lead from three to 16 by quarter's end. For the second straight night, the Trail Blazers held their opponents under 50% shooting and it also helped a great deal that the Kings were only one for 11(nine percent) on their shots from the three-point line. Stotts was extremely proud of Jeffries impact tonight.

    "It doesn't show in the box score, but when he (Jeffries) came in for LA, he really helped the guys that were out there defensively," said Stotts. "He makes guys better."

    Jeffries had a +/- of +18.

    From then on it was a fourth quarter of smooth sailing for the Trail Blazers as they eventually won by 17, 103-86.

    Behind a resilient performance from their rookie point guard and a gutsy one from their All-Star, Portland coasted to a win that, at the very least, was a morale-booster. It was far from a complete 48-minutes game, as Coach Stotts expressed afterwards, but a win is a win.

    The Trail Blazers will fly home tonight and have the next two nights off and will play again on Friday against the Houston Rockets at the Rose Garden. The game will tipoff at 7PM and will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on the radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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