Trail Blazers-Kings Preview


A good way for the Portland Trail Blazers to momentarily end their struggles on the road might come with a stop in Sacramento.

The Trail Blazers will try to avoid a season-high fourth consecutive loss away from home Thursday night while looking for a sixth straight road victory over the lowly Kings, who have dropped five in a row.

Portland (13-9) improved to 10-1 at home while scoring its most points of the season during Wednesday's 112-68 rout of Charlotte. The Trail Blazers should be riding high after they shot 55.0 percent and held Charlotte to 32.5 percent shooting en route to the Bobcats' worst loss in franchise history.

"The defense was really good all night long," Portland coach Nate McMillan told the team's official website.

Now, the Trail Blazers hope to carry that success over to the road as they make a quick stop in Sacramento before returning home for a three-game home stretch starting Saturday versus Denver. Though Portland is averaging 90.5 points while going 3-8 on the road - compared to 104.7 points per game at the Rose Garden - it has a good chance for some rare success away from home for at least one night.

Portland has won 11 of 12 overall against the Kings (6-15), and averaged 105.2 points on 48.6 percent shooting during a five-game winning streak at Sacramento that dates to a 103-86 loss there April 11, 2008. The Trail Blazers have already posted a pair of home victories against the Kings this season, holding Sacramento to an average of 84.0 points on 38.9 percent shooting in those contests.

Gerald Wallace, who scored 23 against the Bobcats, has totaled 45 and made 17 of 23 shots in both wins over the Kings this season. Teammate Jamal Crawford had 24 points in 21 minutes versus Charlotte, and scored 26 in a 101-89 victory over Sacramento on Jan. 23.

Kings star DeMarcus Cousins has averaged 20.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in the last three games versus Portland, but none have resulted in a Kings victory.

Cousins had 21 with 14 boards while Tyreke Evans flirted with a triple-double, recording 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Kings fell to 4-10 under coach Keith Smart with a 93-90 loss at Golden State on Tuesday.

"I take responsibility for a few things that I did out there that I won't do again,'' said Smart, choosing not to elaborate on his coaching Tuesday night. "That's between me and myself.

"It only takes a couple moments in a game, or a quarter, for it to separate.''

Ranked near the bottom of the league averaging 90.6 points per game, Sacramento has scored 100 or more points twice this season and none in the last 13 contests.

The Kings could catch a break with Blazers forward Nicolas Batum to miss his second straight game with a left knee bone bruise. One of Portland's key reserves, Batum is averaging 11.4 points and 4.1 rebounds this season.

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