Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/14/12
SACRAMENTO -- There's no doubting the skills of Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard. As he showed the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, he is the real deal. Lillard scored 22 points to lead five Blazers in double figures, and Portland ended a four-game losing streak by hammering the Kings 103-86 before a disappointed and sparse crowd of 10,153 at Sleep Train Arena. Lillard, an Oakland native, was passed over in the 2012 draft by the Kings. He had a large cheering section of folks who made the 90-minute drive from the East Bay. After the game, Lillard added Kings coach Keith Smart and guard Marcus Thornton to list of his supporters. "He's real," Smart said of Lillard. "That guy's a real basketball player because he's about as close as a legitimate '1' that has come into our league in a long time. ... He has an understanding of the process of the game, the flow of the game, the facial expressions of guys who haven't touched the ball yet and when to get them the ball. "A lot of great players from the '1' position understand that, but he has it already." Thornton added about the eight-game NBA veteran, "He makes the right plays and plays the game the right way. It's rare to see a guy play under control that early in his career." Portland coach Terry Stotts added his praise. "Obviously he shot the ball well, but I thought he took what was there," Stotts said of Lillard, who made seven of 10 shots from the field, including five of six from 3-point range. "When you make your shots, it's always impressive, but I thought he had a good floor game, too." Lillard finished with nine assists and four turnovers. Portland took control of the game in the third quarter. Sacramento held a 54-50 lead shortly after halftime, but the Blazers scored 28 of the game's next 32 points to drive some of the home fans to boo. The Kings (2-6) were unable to get within 10 points again. Each of the Blazers' starters scored in double figures even though the team played Monday night in Portland, losing 95-87 to the Atlanta Hawks. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 19 points against the Kings, and Wesley Matthews added 18. Nicolas Batum had 15 points, and J.J. Hickson contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds. James Johnson led the Kings with 16 points. Marcus Thornton added 14 points for Sacramento, which got eight points and 11 rebounds from Jason Thompson. The Trail Blazers controlled the game with a season-high 14 3-pointers (in 27 attempts). Meanwhile, the Kings went just 1-for-11 from behind the arc. "That's a huge discrepancy," Kings center Chuck Hayes said. "You're usually not going to win when that happens." The Trail Blazers led 46-42 at the half. Portland jumped out to a 25-10 advantage, sparked by Lillard's perimeter scoring. Lillard, from Weber State, ended the half with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. The Kings had no offensive flow until Smart brought second-year guard Jimmer Fredette and rookie forward Thomas Robinson off the bench. The pair combined to score 18 first-half points and helped push the tempo. Sacramento opened the game with a decidedly different starting lineup. Hayes replaced suspended center DeMarcus Cousins, while veteran guard Aaron Brooks stepped in for point guard Isaiah Thomas, who was not with the team because of a death in the family. NOTES: Sacramento began a stretch in which it plays seven of eight games at home. ... Cousins missed the second of his two NBA-mandated suspended games because of a confrontation with San Antonio TV commentator Sean Elliott on Friday. The Players Association filed an appeal on his behalf after Cousins served the first half of the penalty Sunday during the Kings' 103-90 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Elliott criticized Cousins during a broadcast for directing trash talk at the Spurs bench. ... Lillard began the game leading NBA rookies in scoring, assists and minutes.
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