Kings

Kings escape with 95-92 win over Blazers

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Kings escape with 95-92 win over Blazers

BOX SCORE
SACRAMENTO -- John Salmons can't remember a worse shooting slump.He's hoping the 19 points he scored to help the Sacramento Kings to a rare win over Portland on Thursday night will help him forget it.Marcus Thornton scored 20 points the Kings, who snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Portland 95-92 Thursday night.The Blazers had beaten the Kings in 12 of the previous 13 games, but Sacramento ran off five straight points late in the game and held off Portland, which missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds, including a nice look from Jamal Crawford just prior to the buzzer soundings.

Salmons entered the game shooting 35 percent from the field and 21 percent on 3-pointers. After making three 3-pointers and eight of 14 shots overall, Salmons was asked if he had ever shot this poorly for such a prolonged stretch."Not this bad. Not this bad," said Salmons, who also had eight rebounds. "It's human nature to be frustrated. But you've got to stay with it and keep going. But it hasn't been easy."Kings coach Keith Smart understood what this game meant to Salmons, a quiet veteran who normally speaks much louder on the court than he does in the locker room."He's too proud of a pro to have a season-long bad game," Smart said. "I always knew that from knowing him around the league as a pro, that somewhere down the line his game is going to come back to him. The guy is really working. I'm happy that he played well, and so is the team."LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost four straight on the road, where they are 3-9 this season. Jamal Crawford scored 17 points and Raymond Felton 15 points and 10 assists. Portland made just 8-of-16 free throws.Tyreke Evans scored 18 points, Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings.Salmons broke an 88-88 tie with a jumper and Thompson put back a shot in traffic, giving the Kings a 92-88 lead with 1:53 left. A jumper by Evans gave Sacramento a 95-90 cushion with 15.2 seconds remaining."We've seen this team three times so far, that's how crazy this season has been," Thompson said. "We prepared for them, the extra practice this week helped. We definitely needed this win. It's nice to smile after a game and laugh."Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged nearly 21 points and 12 rebounds in the previous games, was in foul trouble early. He played 14 minutes, and didn't leave the bench in the fourth quarter, finishing with eight points and six rebounds.After squandering a six-point lead and allowing the Blazers to go ahead by a basket, Thornton hit a 3-pointer and next time down court made a fastbreak layup to put the Kings in front 84-81 with five minutes left."We really had control of this game and had a flow going," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "But in the second half it's pretty much what it has been for us - turnovers, a lot of one-on-one play, and lack of ball movement. We just self-destruct on the road."Salmons, who entered the game in a season-long slump and was shooting 35 percent, opening the fourth quarter with his third 3-pointer of the game. Isaiah Thomas quickly followed with a basket to give Sacramento a 76-69 advantage.Evans and Thompson both scored seven points in the third quarter. The Kings overcame nine-point halftime deficit, outscoring Portland 24-13 to take a 71-69 lead into the fourth.Trailing since early in the first quarter, the Kings pulled even when Evans got loose on a fastbreak and his emphatic dunk tied the game at 63 with 3:39 left in the third period. Evans later followed with a three-point play to give Sacramento a 68-65 lead.After shooting over 60 percent in the opening half, the Blazers went cold to start the third quarter. They had just two points in the first five minutes before Matthews connected on a 3-pointer for a 61-55 lead.The Kings had no answer for Aldridge in the opening half. The smooth-shooting forward continually got open for mid-range jumpers and made them, scoring 19 points to help Portland take a 56-47 lead into the half.The Blazers ran off 11 straight points early in the second quarter to build a 13-point lead. The Blazers received second-quarter points from an unlikely source - Kurt Thomas. The 39-year-old veteran forward scored eight points in the spurt.NOTES: Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette didn't play for the first time in 22 games. . Aldridge made his first six shots and had 12 points in the opening quarter when the Blazers led 30-27. . Nicolas Batum, a key person off the bench for Portland, missed his second straight game with a bone bruise in his left knee. . Salmons made four of five shots and had 10 first-quarter points.

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Hassan WhitesideGreat WIN 4 the kings tonight KingAllDay
Feb 03 via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

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AP

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

Rinse and repeat. After shocking the Portland Trail Blazers Friday evening at Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings hopped on a plane where they’ll face the same team on the second night of a home-and-home back-to-back.

Dave Joerger shook up his lineup on Friday, installing De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings responded with their best defensive effort of the season. Cauley-Stein went off for 22 points and 10 rebounds with the second unit and his defensive effort was next level.

The Blazers have become a two-man wrecking crew. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum score the bulk of the team’s points on a nightly basis, but coach Terry Stotts is still searching someone who is ready to step up and help. Jusuf Nurkic is part of the puzzle, but the Blazers need more consistency from the other 12 players on the roster.

BETTING LINE:
Blazers by 12

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
De’Aaron Fox vs. Damian Lillard -- Fox put on a defensive show against Portland at Golden 1 Center. The rookie came into the league with high-end potential as a two-way player and he showed it against Lillard, holding the All-Star point guard to 29 points, but on 9-of-25 shooting. Lillard loves to hoist up shots. If Fox can't provide the same pressure, the Kings will struggle to keep up with the Blazers.

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 4-11, fifth place in Pacific

Trail Blazers: 8-7, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) out, F Vince Carter (kidney stones) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Trail Blazers: F Al Farouq Aminu (ankle) out, G C.J. Wilcox (knee) out, PG Wade Baldwin (thumb) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
CONSISTENCY -- You can’t show flashes of brilliance and then take a step back. The Kings defensive effort and overall intensity won the game on Friday night. It’s a place to build from.

FINDING A ROLE -- Joerger shook up everything when he turned to Fox and Labissiere. Offensively, both players struggled, as did Bogdanovic off the bench. This group of young players needs to find a role and figure out a way to help the team, even when the shots aren’t falling.

GET DEFENSIVE -- Portland didn’t know what hit them Friday evening, but they’ll have a few hours to make adjustments. Sacramento’s bigs showed on every high screen and roll. The guard and wing play was aggressive and spot on. The Kings are young and energetic. If they can focus that energy on the defensive end night in and night out, they might have a chance to build something.

SERIES HISTORY:
Sacramento leads the season series 1-0 after Friday night’s win. The Blazers lead the all-time series 129-78 and they own the Kings during the Sacramento-era 88-47.

QUOTE:
"Whether you think the sky is falling or not, we are 3-3 in our last 6 games." - Dave Joerger

Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game

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USATSI

Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game

SACRAMENTO -- Faced with demotion, you have two options, sulk or come out swinging. Willie Cauley-Stein chose option two Friday evening at Golden 1 Center.

After starting all 14 games to begin the season, Cauley-Stein found himself relegated to the second unit against the Portland Trail Blazers. The 7-footer looked energized by the move and made one play after another as the Kings came away with the 86-82 victory.

“I felt free - period,” Cauley-Stein said following the win. “Both offensively, defensively. I’m quarterbacking on defense. I’m getting to make plays on offense. I just feel liberated. I feel like it’s unlocking.”

The third-year big began the 2017-18 campaign with back-to-back double-doubles, but hadn’t notched double-figures in rebounds since. Over his previous eight games, the Kings’ starting center was averaging just 4.3 boards per game.

Against Portland, Cauley-Stein played sparkling defense, hit 9-of-17 from the floor for a team-high 22 points and hit the glass for 10 boards. He skied above the Blazers bigs for a rebound with 3.4 seconds remaining and his second free throw attempt sealed the win for a Kings team in desperate need of a win.

“Willie’s a hell of a player, obviously,” veteran big Kosta Koufos said. “He’s really athletic, he’s a special talent.”

Koufos and Cauley-Stein made a devastating defensive duo for Sacramento. Both bigs showed on the high pick-and-roll and avoided fouling the Blazers high-powered guards.

“That’s a crazy defensive lineup right there, me and Kosta play really well together,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve been waiting for that lineup since we started.”

Damian Lillard scored 29 points, but he shot just 9-of-25 from the field and 5-for-14 from long range. C.J. McCollum knocked down 8-of-15 from the floor, but he missed all four of his 3-point attempts as Sacramento closed out and pressured the shooter all night long.

Cauley-Stein wasn’t the only starter to find himself on the bench to start the game. Dave Joerger turned to a dual point guard backcourt, using De’Aaron Fox and George Hill side-by-side, while bringing rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic in with the second unit.

Playing off the ball for long stretches, Hill responded to the move with 14 points and five assists in 27 minutes. Fox had a quiet offensive night, but his defense on both Lillard and McCollum was inspired.

“We can both attack and he’s a great shooter so that really helps me,” Fox said of Hill. “He’s a mentor on the court. It’s a lot easier to play with him then to watch him play.”

Sacramento held Portland to just 37 percent shooting overall and 28 percent from behind the arc. They pressured the Blazers in the backcourt and slowed the game to screeching halt.

With the win, the Kings snapped their three-game losing streak and improved to 4-11 on the season. They jumped a plane for Portland following the game where they’ll face the same Trail Blazer team Saturday in a rare back-to-back against the same team.

The Kings likely be without the services of shooting guard Buddy Hield, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. Hield limped into the locker room on crutches following the victory and the initial indications point to him missing the rematch.