Trail Blazers-Kings Preview

The Associated Press

After taking advantage of the Sacramento Kings' struggling defense to win the opener, the Portland Trail Blazers hope to duplicate that formula as the home-and-home set moves south.

The high-scoring Trail Blazers aim for their fourth win in five games Saturday night when they visit a Sacramento team looking to avoid its fifth straight loss.

In the first of back-to-back meetings between these clubs, Damian Lillard had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead Portland (3-2) to a 104-91 victory over the visiting Kings (1-4) on Friday.

The reigning rookie of the year is averaging 23.8 points while making 20 of 42 from 3-point range to become the second NBA player to hit three or more 3s in his team's first five games. Former Blazer Damon Stoudamire did it with Toronto in 1996.

He also became the first player to have at least 100 points, 25 rebounds, 25 assists and 20 3-pointers in his first five games.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter Friday, becoming the first Blazers player to score at least 20 in each of the first five games since Clyde Drexler in 1988.

''Damian and L.A., they're kind of our go-to guys and they came through,'' coach Terry Stotts said.

The Trail Blazers have been soaring offensively during this 3-1 stretch, averaging 108.3 points while shooting 42 for 96 (43.8 percent) from 3-point range. They eclipsed 100 points for the fourth straight game Friday while making 48.8 percent from the field and 10 of 23 from beyond the arc.

Wesley Matthews continued his recent tear with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds. He's averaging 19.5 points on 57.1 percent shooting - including 12 of 21 from long range - in his last four games.

The offensive minded Trail Blazers proved too much for the Kings, who have allowed opponents to score 104.3 per game and shoot 49.5 from the field over a four-game losing streak.

''Defensively, we collapsed,'' said first-year coach Michael Malone, whose club also has yielded 42.7 percent shooting from 3-point range during this stretch.

The Kings, however, now return home as they seek their first win since beating visiting Denver in the season opener.

''It will be a different game," said Portland forward Nic Batum, who had 14 points. "They'll be at home and they'll want to beat us for a little payback."

Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins looks to build on his best performance, finishing with 35 points on 13-of-25 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and four steals against a Portland team has been outscored in the paint by an average of 49.6 to 30.0.

Cousins is averaging 25.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in his last three meetings with the Trail Blazers, though he's missed three of the past six matchups while serving suspensions.

In the most recent meeting in Sacramento on Dec. 23, Marcus Thornton led the Kings with 22 points in a 108-96 victory. He'll look to bounce back, however, after scoring five points on 2-of-11 shooting Friday.

The Kings have won three of four at home against the Trail Blazers.

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