Trail Blazers rebound quickly, avenge loss to Kings
PORTLAND, Ore. — For the Portland Trail Blazers, that was more like it.
After falling 86-82 at Sacramento on Friday, the Trail Blazers gained revenge with a steady 102-90 pounding of the Kings on Saturday night at Moda Center.
The Trail Blazers took the lead for good in the second quarter, put themselves in control early in the third quarter and finished off the Kings in the fourth quarter.
“A great win for us,” said Portland point guard Damian Lillard, who had 22 points and a game-high six assists. “We felt like we had to have this one, especially after last night and with a big road trip coming up.”
Backcourt made CJ McCollum all scorers with 25 points. Center Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Trail Blazers.
Willie Cauley-Stein had 18 points and Zach Randolph 17 to lead six Kings in double figures.
Portland (9-7) improved to 7-4 at home. Sacramento (4-12) is 1-9 on the road.
Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts was pleased with his team’s play not only at both ends of the court but down the bench.
“I liked our demeanor,” Stotts said. “After being disappointed last night and struggling with the offense, to come back and have that type of game was encouraging. ... I think our first five baskets were all assisted, and that set a tone. Defensively, we were solid till late in the fourth quarter. Our bench struggled last night, and they were the difference tonight.”
Off the bench, Shabazz Napier and Meyers Leonard each scored 11 points for Portland.
Leonard, a big man who has played sparingly and was injured earlier this season, sparkled at times, making 3 of 5 shots from 3-point range and 4 of 8 overall. He added seven rebounds in 22 minutes, and his plus-minus rating of plus-10 was third on the team, behind Lillard (plus-20) and backup guard Pat Connaughton (plus-18).
Stotts said he chose to give Leonard a run because the Kings “packed it in” with two big men and Leonard’s range might help Portland take advantage of that.
“I felt like I did my job, did what I was supposed to do,” Leonard said. “Rebounded the ball, worked on defense, probably should have taken a few more shots.”
Lillard was an efficient 8 of 18 from the floor, going 7 for 11 on 2-point shots.
“Damian did a really nice job of managing the game,” Stotts said. “The third quarter, he showed a lot of leadership, even beyond his scoring.”
On Friday, the Trail Blazers were listless and shot 37 percent from the field, going 7 of 25 on 3-pointers. On their home floor, they were much better marksmen while again defending solidly, especially around the basket. Portland shot a season-high 54.3 percent from the field (10 of 21 on 3-pointers) and limited Sacramento to 38.2 percent. It was the sixth time in the last seven games that Portland allowed fewer than 100 points.
“A decent offensive night. More importantly, it was another really good defensive night,” Lillard said.
The Friday victory over Portland was “emotional for us,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said before the rematch, noting that Sacramento had just lost by 46 points at Atlanta Wednesday. The Kings lacked much emotion on Saturday.
Still, Joerger said he was “really, really proud of our team” for the two-game split and the effort, particularly on Friday. And he praised the Trail Blazers. “We didn’t miss left or right or long, we missed short, and those guys made some tough shots, hats off to them,” he said.
Looking for positives, Joerger said his team went from shooting 6 for 23 in the paint in the first half to 13 for 21 the rest of the way, and he called the Kings’ varying shot selection “a great learning tool.”
The Kings seemed to take the loss in stride.
“It’s always tough to play on a back-to-back,” Cauley-Stein said. “I feel like we gave everything we had left over from last night.
“Turnovers played a big part for them getting ahead of us, and then us being tired. A lot of us shot short, but we had some really damn good looks. The ball just wasn’t falling for us tonight.
“I like where we’re headed. I like our energy levels, and our effort is high, so it’s going to be fun moving on from here.”
The Trail Blazers will launch a five-game trip Monday at Memphis. The Kings’ next three games are at home, starting with Denver on Monday.
NOTES: The win was Portland’s ninth in a row at home over the Kings. ... Trail Blazers PF Ed Davis returned as a reserve after missing a game with an injured left ankle. Portland started Noah Vonleh at the position. ... Kings G Buddy Hield, second on the team in scoring with 11.6 points per game, sprained his right ankle late in Friday’s 86-82 victory at home over Portland and wasn’t able to go in the rematch. ... Kings starting C Zach Randolph, once a standout PF for the Trail Blazers, had no points in the Friday game, going 0 of 4 from the field in 14 minutes. On Saturday, he went 6 of 11 from the field and scored 17 points in 22 minutes. ... Kings coach Dave Joerger called the Blazers “an offensive juggernaut when they’re rolling. Multi-talented. We were fortunate (Friday) — they missed some shots.”