The Portland Trail Blazers look to take advantage of a struggling team when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Friday night for the opener of a home-and-home, two-day set. The Trail Blazers have won four of their last six contests after outlasting Orlando 99-94 on Wednesday and holding an opponent under 95 points for the second straight game.
Portland was tied for third in scoring defense (98.9) entering Thursday and holds opponents to 43.6 percent shooting to go along with an offense led by All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who is averaging 24.5 points after scoring 26 versus Orlando. The Trail Blazers hope to keep their focus against the Kings, who have dropped three in a row since their only winning streak of the season (two) and are second-to-last in the league in scoring (93.6). Sacramento won its last two at home - Oklahoma City and Philadelphia - but regressed on the recent road trip that ended with a 126-80 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday that caused coach Dave Joerger to tell reporters: “Losing’s one thing, but we’ve got to do a better job of competing.” Kings rookie guard De’Aaron Fox has struggled shooting of late, making 10-of-34 from the field over the past four contests, but had just five total turnovers in that stretch.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN Northwest (Portland), NBCSN California (Sacramento)
ABOUT PORTLAND (8-6): Reserve guard Shabazz Napier has picked up his production of late while scoring in double figures three of the last four games, culminating with 19 points that included a 5-for-5 effort from behind the arc Wednesday. Lillard’s backcourt mate, CJ McCollum, also poured in 24 points in the win over Orlando and has shot at least 50 percent from the field in three of his last four outings. Center Jusuf Nurkic matched his season high with five assists last time out and is averaging 15.4 points and 7.2 rebounds overall.
ABOUT SACRAMENTO (3-11): Leading scorer Zach Randolph (13 points) scored 16 against Atlanta while veteran guard George Hill was the only other player who reached double figures with a dozen. Rookie guard Justin Jackson has cooled off after putting together back-to-back double-figure scoring performances, going just 7-of-31 from the floor over the past three contests. Guard Buddy Hield is averaging 13.4 points in November, but is coming off his worst game of the month as he was held to six points on 2-of-8 from the field.
1. Sacramento PF Skal Labissiere has drained 12-of-22 shots from the field in the last three contests.
2. Portland’s rookie PF Caleb Swanigan made his second career start Wednesday, but did not score in six minutes.
3. The Trail Blazers won two of the three meetings last season with each team winning on its home court.
PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 110, Kings 103