Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/9/12
PORTLAND -- Would you believe three in a row for Sacramento? The Kings broke open a tight game early in the third quarter and never looked back en route to a 99-80 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night at the Rose Garden. DeMarcus Cousins collected 19 points and 12 rebounds and John Salmons contributed season highs in points (19) and assists (11) for the Kings (7-12), who won their third consecutive game and avenged a 93-76 setback to the Trail Blazers Nov. 23 at Sacramento. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 10 rebounds and J.J. Hickson added 14 points and 15 boards for Portland (8-12), which was beginning a six-game homestand following a seven-game road trip. Sacramento, which notched its first road win of the season, led only 43-41 at halftime but opened the third quarter with a 14-6 surge that produced a 57-47 advantage. The Blazers never got their deficit into single figures the rest of the way. "Coming off of two home wins, to go on the road and get that third win -- it feels good," Salmons said. "Hopefully we can continue doing it." The Kings won despite shooting only 41.9 percent from the field. They were hot from 3-point range, though — 47.4 percent (9 for 19). Portland made 38.7 percent of their field goals and committed 19 turnovers that led to 30 Sacramento points. "Sacramento played harder and better than we did," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "We were out of sorts offensively all night, whether turnovers or finishing at the rim or spacing. It was just a rough night at both ends." Two Portland starters left the game because of injuries. Nicolas Batum, who tweaked his back in the Blazers' loss at Indiana on Wednesday, started but reinjured the back and left in the third quarter. He finished with five points and two rebounds in 17 minutes. Guard Wesley Matthews left early in the fourth quarter with a hip injury and did not return. He scored 14 points in 29 minutes. "We hope they're OK," Aldridge said. "We don't need those two guys out for any stretch of time. We don't want there to be anything serious wrong with them." NOTES: Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans (knee) sat for the second consecutive game. ... Count Sacramento coach Keith Smart as one who believes Portland's point guard, Damian Lillard, is the lead candidate for Rookie of the Year honors. The Weber State product finished with 12 points and nine assists. "Lillard is one of those guys who comes along not that often," Smart said. "His poise on the floor is well beyond his years. There are little checkoff points when I evaluate point guards that I notice about him. He never looks directly to where he wants to go with the ball. There's always some peripheral vision, where he looks and sees where players are. On the pick-and-roll, he knows how to go a foot and a half before its impact to still be able to dance around it. That's a veteran move. He can shoot and he can pass with both hands. I'm still trying to find what this kid's weaknesses are from an offensive standpoint. ... Smart said he has offered advice to Cousins, the Kings' 22-year-old center. Said the Sacramento coach: "I told him, ‘You put too much pressure on yourself to be an all-star, all-pro, all-defense and Olympian. Forget those things. You have the rest of your career to get to that. Focus on rebounding. Get 20 rebounds a night. You do that, you'll finish with 18 to 25 points a night.' "
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