Blazers keep their balance against Kings

Rick Hurd. The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and the rest of the Portland Trail Blazers figure it's too early to draw any grand conclusions after six games. But they acknowledged that beating the same team on successive nights might be a pretty good omen.
Even if the team they've defeated appears to be going nowhere fast.
"If we're going to come together like we want and go where this team wants to go, we have to take care of business on nights like this," said Aldridge, the eighth-year forward whose 22 points and 14 rebounds helped lead a 96-85 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night, the Trail Blazers' second win in 24 hours against the Kings. "Same team two nights in a row, that's not easy."
Matthews, playing nearly 35 minutes at guard, added 21 points, all but two of them in the second half on 7-for-9 shooting from the field, and Portland (4-2) handed Sacramento (1-5) its fifth consecutive loss.
Forward Robin Lopez added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Portland, and the Trail Blazers dominated inside the paint for the second straight night. Portland outrebounded Sacramento 52-33, including 19-8 on the offensive end.
In the two games, the Trail Blazers had an 99-64 advantage on the glass.
"Every night it's the same," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "They dominated the glass. We finally get a night when we defend at a decent level, but we can't rebound, we get outworked on the glass."
Portland took over in the paint in the second quarter, using an 11-2 edge on the offensive boards and methodically opening a 45-38 halftime edge. Aldridge had 11 of his 14 rebounds in the first half, and Portland had an 8-2 edge in second-half points.
The Kings shored up that problem a little in the second half -- Portland had a 24-20 rebounding advantage during that span -- but could not find an answer for Matthews, who made all four of his shots from the field in the third quarter, two of them 3-pointers.
"He's playing at a high level, especially at the offensive end," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "At that position, you're exerting a lot of energy chasing guys around, but his offense hasn't gone anywhere."
Center DeMarcus Cousins scored 17 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Kings cut an 80-58 deficit to 87-80 with 3:17 to play. The Trail Blazers refused to double-team Cousins, instead using Aldridge and Lopez to challenge him in one-on-one matchups underneath.
"Obviously, he's a great player," Lopez said. "You almost have to take the mentality that you're gonna let him get his. By not doubling, you're keeping other areas on the floor from opening up for the other guys, and we executed that well."
With Sacramento down only seven, two free throws by Lopez and a 3-point field goal by forward Nicolas Batum put the Trail Blazers ahead 92-82. The Kings got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Ben McLemore added 13 points for Sacramento and made all three of this 3-point shots. Isaiah Thomas had 12 points for the Kings.
The Kings have not led any of their six games entering the fourth quarter.
"That's the one thing I don't get with our team," Malone said. "Every night ... we play around two-and-a-half quarters. We get behind, we get behind, we make a great comeback, but it's way too late. That's just losing basketball. It's a losing mentality."
NOTES: The Kings and Trail Blazers have faced each other in consecutive games four times since the Kings began playing in Sacramento in 1985, but Saturday's game marked the first time the two franchises have played each other on consecutive nights. ... Portland rookie G CJ McCollum has yet to play his first game because of a fractured bone in his left foot. ... Cousins averaged 21.6 points in Sacramento's first five games, the highest-scoring NBA center. He also led all centers in steals and was tied with former University of Kentucky teammate and current Washington Wizards G John Wall for fifth in the league at 2.40 steals per game. ... Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard's 20 3-pointers were the most by any Portland player in the team's first five games. ... Matthews started the night in fifth place on the Trail Blazers' career 3-point list after moving past Clyde Drexler in the first meeting between the clubs. Matthews' 465 3-pointers trailed Terry Porter (773), Damon Stoudamire (717), Batum (517) and Clifford Robinson (492).

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