Kings fall to the Blazers 109-91

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Kings fall to the Blazers 109-91

BOX SCORE

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Trail Blazers wanted to put Sunday's loss to Sacramento behind them as quickly as possible.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 12 rebounds, and the Blazers beat the Kings 109-91 Wednesday night to earn their revenge.

"The way we played (three) days ago wasn't us," said Nicolas Batum, who had 18 points for Portland. "We wanted to get back on track against this team. It was so good to beat them in a big way."

J.J. Hickson added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers, who built a double-digit lead in the second quarter and then ran away from the Kings, leading by as many as 26 points. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard had 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

John Salmons led the Kings with 19 points. Reserve Isaiah Thomas had 12 points and Jason Thompson added 11. The Kings are 1-12 on the road this season - the only win coming Dec. 8 against the Blazers.

Portland has won nine of its last 10 games at home. The Blazers tied up the season series with the Kings after losing to them 108-96 on Sunday in Sacramento, which snapped the Blazers' five-game winning streak. Sacramento shot 56 percent from the field in that game, but after a good start Wednesday, went cold and shot just 40 percent for the game.

"We knew we got away from it in Sacramento," Lillard said. "We focused more on defense. The last game, we just lost it. They took us to the rim and got what they wanted on offense. We just had to make a point to play better defense."

Sacramento took a pounding in the post without leading scorer and rebounder DeMarcus Cousins, who did not make the trip despite being reinstated from an indefinite suspension.

Cousins had been suspended after an argument with coach Keith Smart during halftime of a game Friday. Cousins missed Sunday's game, but practiced Monday after the suspension was lifted. Still, Smart chose to keep him home Wednesday. Without him, the Kings were outrebounded 53-35.

"Obviously, everyone played well at home and we didn't have that tonight," Smart said. "They rebounded the ball well and got out on the fast break."

The Blazers took a 62-44 lead into halftime after an electrifying first half in which they shot 57 percent. The game was tied at 37 in the second quarter but Sacramento's turnovers and defensive breakdowns allowed Portland to go on a 25-7 run into halftime, punctuated by rim-shaking dunks by Hickson, Lillard and rookie center Meyers Leonard.

"They just got going and it's hard to stop a team that gets it going at home," Thomas said. "Especially when they have shooters and guys that can go to the hole and dunk."

Notes: The Kings have lost seven of their last nine in Portland. . . . Sacramento G Tyreke Evans sat out for the fifth straight game with a sore left knee that has kept him out of 10 games this season. . . . Portland was playing without G Wesley Matthews, who has missed two straight with a hip injury. . . . Hickson has nine straight double-doubles, the most for a Blazer since Kermit Washington in 1980.

Kings' Cousins: 'Only goal this season' is to make playoffs

Kings' Cousins: 'Only goal this season' is to make playoffs

With their 109-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, the Sacramento Kings sit 10 games under .500 at 17-27. In almost any other season, that would mean that they were dead in the water in the Western Conference playoff race. But this it the 2016-17 season where anything is possible at the bottom.

Following Sacramento’s win at the Palace at Auburn Hills, DeMarcus Cousins was asked about the playoff picture.

“It’s my only goal this season,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “My only goal.” 

When pushed on the subject, he gave a more complete answer.

“Oh man, it’s eating me alive - every loss or every time another team wins that’s battling for the eighth spot, it’s eating me alive,” Cousins added. “Our only goal is to be in the playoffs this season.”

The Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with the win over the Pistons and they came into the evening just 2-10 over their previous 12 games. 

Once they get through their current eight game road trip, they spend the entire month of February in the Pacific time zone and play 11 over their next 13 games at Golden 1 Center.  

“The one thing I can give credit to this team about is us staying together and being a positive locker room through the ups and downs,” Cousins said. “I’m still confident and I still believe we’re going to make that push for the playoffs.”

Despite the rough patch, the Kings remain just a game and a half out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. No one is running away with that last playoff spot, at least not yet.

 

Lawson, bench unit spark Kings' much-needed win over Pistons

Lawson, bench unit spark Kings' much-needed win over Pistons

Everyone must contribute. With Rudy Gay gone for the season, Sacramento needs a team effort each night out if they are going to have a chance of turning things around. Balancing the roster on the fly is never easy, but it’s the hand that the Kings were dealt when their second leading scorer tore his Achilles last week.

Needing a win in the worst way, the Kings walked into the Palace at Auburn Hills and came away with a huge 109-104 victory. Demarcus Cousins put up numbers, but it was the supporting cast that found a way to rise to the occasion and snap the team’s five-game losing streak.

“We’re going to need everybody on this team,” Cousins told reporters following the game. “At some point, everyone on the bench is going to win a game for us. Tonight, it was Ty (Lawson), it was Willie (Cauley-Stein) and it was Malachi (Richardson).”

Lawson was a magician with the ball. He entered the game with the Kings down just one with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter, but the Pistons caught fire around that time and pushed the lead to 11 with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter.

It looked like Sacramento might fall behind big once again, but then Lawson and the bench unit took over.

“Ty Lawson, Malachi Richardson and Willie Cauley-Stein had a great energy when we were down 11 in the first half,” Joerger told reporters. “Obviously, probably the best Willie’s played all year. Same for Malachi. He got some run, he got a little burn in the second half, felt pretty good.”

Powered by Lawson, the offense instantly opened up in the second quarter as the Kings tracked down the Pistons on their home floor. Sacramento outscored Detroit 37-24 in the frame to take a three point lead into the intermission. Lawson posted nine points and handed out four assists in the quarter.

“When our offense gets sticky, he’s able to create shots for guys by getting kickouts and getting in the lane,” Joerger said.

The 5-foot-11 point guard didn’t let up in the second half, finishing the night with 19 points and six assists in 23 minutes of action.  

“Chico just goes and plays, man, that’s Chico,” Cousins said of Lawson. “If there’s anyone with a green light to just go and play, it’s him. We love what he does with this team. He’s a spark off the bench for us. He gets us going when there’s a slump. We love the little guy.”

Lawson has become a catalyst off the bench for coach Jeorger. The 29-year-old speedster signed a one-year deal with the Kings late in the offseason and he’s quickly found his niche with the team.

“You play with Ty, you can’t help by want to run, because he will pitch it to you and that’s the best motivation - everybody wants to score,” said Joerger.

Cousins and Lawson didn’t do it alone. Cauley-Stein had one of his games of the season, finishing the night with 12 points and five rebounds. Darren Collison added 12 points, Garrett Temple chipped in 11 points and veteran Matt Barnes added 10 points and eight rebounds.  

“It’s a big, bounce back win,” Cousins said. “We were kind of heartbroken about the last lost. We felt we did everything needed to pull a win and it just didn’t go that way for us. We kind of showed our character and showed we could overcome some type of adversity with the win tonight.”

The Kings are back at it on Wednesday in Cleveland when they hit game four of their season-long eight-game road trip. They’ll face LeBron James and the championship Cavs for the second time this month.  

“It’s huge, we had a little stretch where we lost like eight of nine games, something like that,” Lawson told CSN’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “Getting a win going into Cleveland, it makes us feel a little bit better. Now we’ve got to go in and get a tough one.”

A tough one indeed. Cleveland sits at 31-13 on the season, but they are coming off back-to-back losses against the Spurs and Pelicans.