Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Dominate Kings In Series Finale

12/27/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The final game in the season series between the Trail Blazers (14-13) and the Kings (9-19) ended exactly as every  game has, in blowout fashion, this time it was the Trail Blazers that took it to the Kings. LaMarcus Aldridge (28 points, 12 rebounds) and JJ Hickson (17 points, 14 rebounds)  were too much for the Kings inside. The win pushes the Trail Blazers back over .500.

    "I thought it was a solid win for us," Terry Stotts said. "I thought we executed our defense better. We made a priority to keep the ball in front of us, keep the ball out of the paint."

    After being beaten soundly twice this month by the Kings, it was evident that the Trail Blazers had to pick it up defensively. In the previous game, the Kings got going early and when the Trail Blazers needed stops, they defended well, but the Kings hit tough shots anyway. Will Barton, who had a career-high of 14 points off the bench, delivered the best assessment of what the Kings' identity is offensively.

    "They are a good rhythm team," Barton said. "If they get into a rhythm they are going to make a lot of shots and that's what happened the first two games. Our whole thing was to disrupt them early so things wouldn't be easy for them."

    At the beginning, it was the Trail Blazers that got into their rhythm early. They scored 31 points in the first quarter and had a very good offensive "flow," with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum (18 points, six rebounds, five assists) getting going early, combining for 18 points. Aldridge, who had a masterful game, was kept the Kings defense on their toes all night as he did seemingly whatever he wanted on the offensive end.

    "LaMarcus had offensively changing it up between some jump shots and getting into the paint," Stotts said.

    Aldridge continued his dominance throughout the game as he ended up with his great stat line. Hickson was also dominant, again. With DeMarcus Cousins not playing, the Kings didn't have any answers in the paint. Hickson's double-double was his ninth in a row, which is the most by a Trail Blazers since Kermit Washington did it in 1980. Hickson's streak is also the third-longest in the NBA this year. Behind their dominant play, the Trail Blazers held a +18 rebound advantage as well as 50-36 scoring advantage in the paint.

    The second quarter was where the Trail Blazers broke the game open. They held the Kings to only 18 points while the Trail Blazers posted another 31-point quarter. The Trail Blazers fought the dribble and without the dribble, the talented one-on-one scorers that Barton spoke about after the game couldn't get their rhythm. John Salmons was the only player that looked comfortable for the Kings as he finished with 19 points, but the rest of Kings were out of sorts. The Trail Blazers unleashed an air-show on the Kings with dunk after dunk.

    The Kings would threaten to make the game interesting, but time after time the Trail Blazers would have an answer. The Trail Blazers extended the lead to as much as 26 and it seemed like nobody could do wrong and they played like nobody could either. They had 31 assists on the 44 field goals they made and had an astonishing 19 assists on 23 shots at halftime. Despite their struggles in Sacramento, the offense for the Trail Blazers was back to looking like it did during their five-game winning streak. Also, it's often customary for young teams to take their foot off the gas pedal, but there was no relaxing tonight for the Trail Blazers.

    "We had a few dunks because of our defense, so I was proud of the way we came out in the third quarter and didn't really give them any life," Stotts said.

    The fourth quarter began and Stotts elected to take out Damian Lillard with 10:29 left and the Trail Blazers up by 23. Aldridge had already left and it seemed like Batum's night would end soon. However, the Kings made a rally to force Stotts to put Hickson, Aldridge and Lillard in the game back with Batum. The lead got as low as 13 but Damian Lillard hit a deep three to put them back up by 16 and put the metaphorical nail in the Kings coffin.

    Lillard started slow from the field but closed well and was only two rebounds shy of a triple-double (17 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds). Lillard said it would have meant a lot to him and that he "started to chase rebounds," after learning he was close to his first one. Regardless, Lillard is the first Trail Blazer with at least 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds since Brandon Roy in February of 2008.  

    The win helps even the season series between the Kings as the weird four games comes to an end. The margin of victory in each game, was over 16 points. But now, it's on to the other team in the NBA that wears purple that everybody in Rip City knows all too well, the Los Angeles Lakers, whom the Trail Blazers beat on opening night. However, they now have Steve Nash back and will also have a new coach since the last time these two teams faced off. Nash got hurt in the previous game between these two teams but with a new offense and coach, things will certainly be a little different.

    Listen to these great calls from Wheels: Leonard's Tomahawk slam and a massive Hickson dunk during the jam fest at the Rose Garden!

    The Trail Blazers don't play again until Friday when they will travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers at Staples Center. That game will start at 7:30 PM and will be shown on KGW and it can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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