SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Nate McMillan thought the Portland Trail Blazers needed a wake-up call, so the coach made them watch their disappointing loss to Houston.
This horror film definitely got to the Blazers.
LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers, who were coming off a 103-87 home loss against the Rockets and had dropped three of four overall. Andre Miller(notes) had 19 points, Nicolas Batum(notes) added 17 and Patty Mills(notes) finished with 14.
“I tortured them this morning by making them watch last night’s game,” McMillan said. “We showed them just what they looked like (against Houston).”
McMillan has used the tactic in the past, but Aldridge admitted it’s typically a good motivator.
“I might have fell asleep (watching the film),” Aldridge joked. “Seriously, you don’t want to see yourself looking that bad. We know defensively we looked bad against Houston. We really picked it up tonight.”
Rookie center DeMarcus Cousins(notes) had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who have lost two straight and six of eight. Marcus Thornton(notes) scored 26 points, Beno Udrih(notes) added 13 and Jermaine Taylor(notes) and Jason Thompson(notes) each had 10.
“For the most part, this was an example of an experienced team jumping on mistakes at an opportune time that an inexperienced team made,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “We did a lot of good things, but we couldn’t come away with a win.”
Portland put together a 7-0 run to take a 102-95 lead with 51 seconds left. Batum made a wide-open 3-pointer, Gerald Wallace(notes) dunked off an alley-oop pass from Matthews and Aldridge converted a long jumper during the surge.
The Trail Blazers, who have won a season-high five consecutive road games, are one of a handful of teams fighting for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
“It’s March and every game counts,” said Batum, who had three of the Blazers’ 11 steals. “We have 21 games remaining, so every game is a big one because the Western Conference is a tough place to play.”
Sacramento played its first game in Power Balance Pavilion but it’s unclear how long the Kings will remain in their renamed home. The building had been called Arco Arena since the inaugural game on Nov. 8, 1988.
On Tuesday, the Maloof ownership group received an extension from the NBA for filing an application for relocation next season, setting up a fight between California cities for the franchise. The Kings already are in talks with Anaheim, which is looking for an NBA team to share the Honda Center with the NHL’s Ducks.
Sacramento drew its second sellout crowd of the season on Monday night, thanks to an organized effort by fans to launch a campaign to keep the team. But there were plenty of empty seats—attendance was 12,286—against the Blazers as new reports painted an even grimmer picture of the team remaining in the city.
Cousins helped the Kings pull within three points midway through the third quarter. But the Blazers built the lead to 79-73 heading into the fourth.
Coming off consecutive losses where they had 83 and 87 points, the Blazers had plenty of offense early on against the Kings. Aldridge scored 16 points and Miller had 13 to lead Portland to the Blazers to a 61-53 halftime lead.
“Even though they have injuries and their star players have been injured, LaMarcus has done a great job of stepping up and filling in,” Cousins said.
NOTES: Rudy Fernandez(notes), a key reserve for the Blazers, missed his second straight game with the flu. … Kings F Francisco Garcia(notes) suited up for the game, but didn’t play. Garcia has missed 21 straight games with a strained left calf, but may return for Saturday’s game at Utah. … Mills made 6 of 8 shots and his 14 points came in 14 minutes. … The Kings have until April 18 to announce a move.