NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 8th (All times Eastern)
Sacramento Kings (6-12) at Portland Trail Blazers (8-11), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Portland Trail Blazers return home after a long trip Saturday night when they host the Sacramento Kings at the Rose Garden.
The Blazers went 2-5 on their trip east, highlighted by wins in Charlotte and Cleveland. Their last game on the sojourn saw them go down to the Indiana Pacers, 99-92.
"I think we're a resilient team," said reigning Western Conference Rookie of the Month, Damian Lillard. "We dropped the first four games, the first two we could have easily won. But on the other hand, the two that we won were in overtime and we could have dropped all seven. But I think it was good for us going through some growing pains, kind of like it's been the whole season."
Against the Pacers, the Blazers held a two-point lead at the half, but Indiana flew out of the gate in the third quarter and won the frame 31-14. Portland won the final quarter 28-20, but it wasn't enough.
The Blazers are 4-3 at home this season. They are getting spectacular production from Lillard (19.3 ppg/6.3 apg) and LaMarcus Aldridge (20.7 ppg/8.0 rpg). The other three starters, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and J.J. Hickson, are all putting up double-figuring scoring seasons, but the bench has not been performing. Meyers Leonard leads reserves in scoring at 5.0 ppg.
While Portland returns home for six straight, Sacramento will play the first of four in a row on the road looking for its first victory this season as the guest. The Kings are 0-6 on the road, but swept a quick two-game homestand to notch consecutive wins for only the second time this season and for the first time since Nov. 5-7.
Sacramento followed up a seven-point win over Toronto by besting the Orlando Magic 91-82 on Friday. DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Isaiah Thomas ended with 17 points.
Jimmer Fredette scored 15, Jason Thompson poured in 12 and Aaron Brooks contributed 11 for the Kings, who will try to win three straight for the first time this season.
"It feels great to just continue to go out there, play well, play hard and ultimately try to get wins. That's what it's all about," said Fredette.
The Kings, though, played for a third time in four games without guard Tyreke Evans, who missed Friday's contest with a sore left knee and is questionable for this one. Evans is averaging 15.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 15 games this season.
The Blazers are 12-3 in their last 15 against the Kings, including a 103-86 win at Sacramento on Nov. 13. Lillard had 22 points and nine assists in the victory.
Portland has won seven of its past nine at home in this series.
12/08 10:40:16 ET