Originally written November 14, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Lillard, shooting, save the day The Headline: The Trail Blazers finally find win No. 3 on the back of Damian Lillard, topping the Kings 103-86 Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings When: 10:00 ET, Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Where: Sleep Train Arena (Sacramento) Officials: Dan Crawford, Bennie Adams, Josh Tiven Attendance: 10,153 Love ‘em 1. Damian Lillard takes control Lillard brought some much needed energy in this Blazer’s win. Portland’s star rookie led the team in both scoring (22 points) and assists (9), coming just shy of his second double-double. He also added 4 rebounds. He shot a stellar 7-10 on the night, going 5-6 from beyond the arc and 3-4 from the line. With Portland’s lead slipping in the third quarter, Lillard came in and did his thing. He had 8 points in the quarter, going a perfect 2-2 on threes. Needless to say, it was a big night for the rookie. And one Portland desperately needed. 2. Hickson follows up After a career 19 points, 18 rebound, performance against against Atlanta, I was wondering how J.J. Hickson would follow up. Though it wasn’t as prolific a start, Portland’s big man had another solid double-double. He scored 10 points on 5-10 shooting, with 13 rebounds. My only qualm with Hickson in this one was his defense. Sacramento outscored Portland in the paint 54-28. That’s a tough night, especially when you consider the Kings were without DeMarcus Cousins. 3. Matthews with a solid night Putting up a quiet night, Wesley Matthews was solid in this win. The Blazer’s guard shot a solid 6-9 from the field, including 2-3 from three and a perfect 4-4 from the line. He finished his night You think the Kings regret not taking Lillard one spot ahead of Portland? (Photo: AP) with 18 points, 4 rebounds with one steal, block and assist a piece. Hate ‘em 1. Beat in the paint As mentioned above, Portland was beat under the basket tonight, bad. For a second game in a row, the Blazers were better on the perimeter. The Kings shot 46.8-percent, making it the second game in a row in which Portland held an opponent under 50-percent. But in order to guard against shooting, Portland gave up in other areas. The Kings outscored the Blazers 54-28 in the paint. They did that without star center DeMarcus Cousins (17.3 ppg) who was serving a suspension. It seems Portland just can’t get their defense running on all cylinders. 2. Putrid bench Big surprise with this one. Portland’s bench stunk. The backups had 19 points tonight, shooting a combined 6-16. Without the bench, Portland’s starters would have shot well over 50-percent. The best performance came from backup guard Ronnie Price, who had 8 points, 6 rebounds and a pair of steals in 20 minutes. The worst was probably Luke Babbitt, who had no points and 3 fouls (including a flagrant) in 2 minutes of junk time. For comparisons sake, the Kings’ bench had 46 points on 19-39 shooting. 3. Shorthanded Kings It’s worth noting that Sacramento was not only missing DeMarcus Cousins, but also start guard (and Husky alum) Isaiah Thomas in this one. Thomas didn’t play because of a death in his family. Without those two, the Kings were missing a combined 29.2 ppg and 11.4 rebounds. Seeing how badly Portland was beat in the paint, I shudder at the thought of if Cousins was in this one. He would have had a career night, that’s for sure. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: with Portland struggling against these shorthanded teams, what happens when the league is healthy? CLICK HERE CHECK OUT OUR TRAIL BLAZERS BLOG AT THE NWSB!
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