National Basketball Association
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             === Kings hope to get help in meeting with Blazers ===
 (Sports Network) - Minus a pair of their biggest players, the Sacramento Kings
 couldn't fend off one of the NBA's more talented teams.
 The Kings hope that the return of rookie forward Thomas Robinson can help them
 avoid a third straight loss as they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday
 Robinson  served the  second  contest  of his  two-game  suspension on  Sunday
 against the Los Angeles Lakers, a ban handed down after he elbowed the Detroit
 Pistons' Jonas Jerebko in the throat during last Wednesday's win.
 Compounding  the loss  of  the  6-foot-10 Robinson  was  that starting  center
 DeMarcus  Cousins  was forced to miss  Sunday's game versus the Lakers as well
 after  he was  hit  with a  two-game suspension  for  confronting San  Antonio
 announcer  Sean Elliot  in what the league deemed a hostile manner following a
 loss on Friday to the Spurs.
 Without the two big men, Los Angeles' Dwight Howard paced his team to a 103-90
 win with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
 "I  thought our  guys had  to play  out of  position a  lot against  some very
 talented  big guys and I thought overall they did a good job. They showed some
 fight, kept themselves pretty close in the game," noted Kings head coach Keith
 Smart.  "The game got  away, but we got back in it a little bit. There's a lot
 of positives."
 Jason  Thompson started in place of Cousins, recording a double-double with 15
 points  and  10 rebounds. Travis  Outlaw also made a  start and had 11 points,
 while  Jimmer Fredette  netted a team-leading 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting in
 nearly 11 minutes of work off the bench.
 Sacramento  will  play four straight  and seven of its  next eight at home and
 will  look to get  that stretch off on a positive note by handing Portland its
 fifth loss in a row.
 The Trail Blazers stayed in a rut on Monday night by dropping a 95-87 decision
 to  the Atlanta Hawks.  J.J. Hickson set a pair of season highs with 19 points
 and  18  rebounds, while Nicolas Batum  dropped in 11  of his 19 points in the
 third quarter.
 Portland  took  its first lead  of the game  at 82-80 at  the 5:40 mark in the
 third, but Atlanta settled down and rallied back in front.
 "Similar  to  last game, we get  ourselves in a  hole and compete and play our
 butts off and come up short," said Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "Obviously
 the  negative is that we didn't come out of the gate very well and it took all
 game to get there. The positive is that we buckled down defensively."
 Wesley  Matthews  was a perfect  10-for-10 from the  free throw line and ended
 with  17 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge continued to set up his teammates for
 Portland's  leading  scorer  matched  a  career high  with  seven  assists  in
 Saturday's  loss  to the Spurs, then  bettered that on Monday night with eight
 helpers.  Aldridge is  averaging  5.6  assists per  game  over  his last  five
 contests and leads the Trail Blazers with 20.7 points per game on the season.
 The  most recent  matchup between  these teams  was a  thriller as  the Kings'
 Marcus Thornton hit a 17-foot jumper with just 3.4 seconds left in the game to
 give his club a 104-103 victory on April 15.
 It was only Sacramento's third victory in the last 14 encounters overall.
 11/13 10:42:26 ET

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