NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, December 23rd
(All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (13-12) at Sacramento Kings (8-18), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Portland Trail Blazers will try to extend their longest
winning streak of the season to six games when they visit the Sacramento Kings
Portland has rattled off five consecutive wins and the most recent triumph
came Saturday night against the visiting Phoenix Suns. The Trail Blazers
used a game-high 25 points from rookie Damian Lillard to down the Suns 96-93.
However, while the Blazers are on their longest winning streak since a six-
gamer from Feb. 5-16, 2011, the Kings have lost six of their last seven
contests. Making matters worse, it was announced Saturday that Sacramento's
leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended indefinitely by the team
for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team."
Cousins was benched for the second half of his team's loss to the Los Angeles
Clippers on Friday. It was later revealed that Cousins was being disciplined
for getting into a verbal altercation with head coach Keith Smart during
halftime of that game.
Cousins, a third-year forward out of Kentucky, is averaging 16.6 points and
9.5 rebounds per game this season.
The Kings enter Sunday's game with an 8-18 record on the season after getting
dealt a 97-85 road loss by the Clippers. Chris Paul tallied 24 points, 13
assists and five steals to lead the way for L.A. Jimmer Fredette netted 16
points off the bench to pace the Kings.
Portland will try to take advantage of Cousins' absence when it aims for
another victory on Sunday.
Lillard, the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft out of Weber State, hit
7-of-13 shots en route to his 25-point night against the Suns. The 22-year-old
was a combined 8-of-28 from the field in two outings prior to Saturday's win.
J.J. Hickson posted a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds for
Portland, which received 17 points and nine boards from LaMarcus Aldridge in
his return from an ankle injury. Aldridge had missed one game with an ankle
Nicolas Batum scored 13 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight
assists in the win.
"We found a way to win," Portland head coach Terry Stotts said. "Our
rebounding in the second half, the fourth quarter, particularly, was very
good, and we held [the Suns] to 40 percent shooting the second half."
Although Portland has won five in a row, each of those victories came at
home, where the Blazers are 9-4 this season compared to a 4-8 record on the
The Kings, meanwhile, are 7-7 at home this season compared to a dismal 1-11
mark on the road.
Sacramento also has taken three of its last four games against the Blazers but
Portland has claimed six of eight at Sleep Train Arena.
12/23 10:34:45 ET