Improving Kings host Lillard, Blazers

The Sacramento Kings have put a dreadful 0-5 start behind them with three wins in the past four games.

Sacramento attempts to continue the momentum on Tuesday when it hosts the Portland Trail Blazers. But the Kings will have to do so without their starting point guard, De'Aaron Fox, who sprained his ankle during practice Monday and is expected to miss at least three to four weeks.

The injury interrupts a strong season for Fox, who averaged 19.8 points and 8.0 assists over the past six games. Veteran backup Cory Joseph is expected to handle the bulk of the point-guard duties in Fox's place.

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The contest with Portland begins a stretch in which the Kings play three of four at home. And an offense that struggled at the outset of the season is suddenly explosive.

Sacramento scored 95 or fewer points in three of its first four games. Losses by 29 to the Phoenix Suns and 32 to the Utah Jazz were part of the destruction.

But in a 2-1 road trip that concluded with Friday's 121-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the Kings averaged 118 points and even tallied 120 in a four-point loss to the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

"Guys are shooting the ball and making shots at a high clip," shooting guard Buddy Hield told reporters after his third straight 20-point outing and sixth of the season.

That was evident during the win over the Hawks as Sacramento made 18 of 31 3-point attempts, a sizzling 58.1 percent. Bench players Bogdan Bogdanovic (5 of 6) and Trevor Ariza (4 of 6) combined for half the makes while Nemanja Bjelica and Hield each made three.

"We have really good shooters on our team," Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters. "We know that. ... When our guys are open we want them letting it fly."

Six players scored 13 or more points in the solid effort that saw Sacramento score at least 28 points in each quarter.

Hield led the way with 22 points while Bogdanovic had 20 and is averaging 21 points while making 11 of 17 3-point attempts over the past two games. Fox recorded 17 points and nine assists, Harrison Barnes scored 16, Ariza contributed 14 and Bjelica added 13.

Portland star point guard Damian Lillard had 35 points and also contributed five rebounds, five assists and three steals in that contest.

Lillard has been superb for the Trail Blazers with a 33.0 scoring average that ranks second in the NBA. His splurge includes a career-best 60-point outing in a 119-115 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.

Lillard had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists as Portland halted a four-game slide with a 124-113 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

"Needless to say, we needed that win," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said afterward. "I thought our guys really fought through and found a way to win however it came, and it didn't come easy. Atlanta made some big plays, some loose balls, but we fought through some of that, fought through some misadventures and transitions, but we needed it. No matter how we got it, we got it."

Especially pleasing to Lillard was the way Portland outscored the Hawks 17-6 in overtime.

"I don't think we could have played that five minutes any better than we did when the game was on the line and such a big situation for us," Lillard said. "So I was just excited for our team."

Lillard received help from backcourt mate CJ McCollum (23 points, eight rebounds), center Hassan Whiteside (21 points, 12 rebounds, three blocked shots) and reserve guard Anfernee Simons (20 points).

Whiteside enjoyed a big outing in last month's win over Sacramento when he scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting and collected nine rebounds.

Swingman Rodney Hood (back) sat out against Atlanta and could also miss Tuesday's contest.

The Trail Blazers have won six of the past seven meetings.

--Field Level Media

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