A victory is a victory, after all, no matter how it looks.
"I'm glad we got the win," Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said. "But
Cousins racked up 35 points and 13 rebounds, and forward Rudy Gay
added 32 points, his highest total since coming to Sacramento, as
the high-scoring Kings prevailed 123-119 at Sleep Train Arena.
Guard Damian Lillard scored 26 of his career-high 41 points in the
final quarter for Portland, which rallied from a 102-83 deficit over
the final eight minutes and came as close as 121-119 with 16.5
Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas hit two free throws with 14.3
seconds to go. When Lillard's final 3-pointer missed its mark,
Sacramento emerged with a win in its highest-scoring game since
putting up 125 at Orlando on Feb. 27, 2012.
The teams combined for 89 points in the final quarter after
Sacramento held Portland to 13 in the third, the Blazers'
lowest-scoring quarter of the season.
"I'm gonna prefer to look at the 13-point third quarter, and I'm
gonna focus on the (Blazers' 43.3) percent shooting for the game,"
Sacramento coach Michael Malone said. "Obviously, we have to do a
better job of closing games, protecting the ball at the end, making
free throws, executing and not giving up so many 3-pointers at the
end. But this was a much-needed win."
The Kings held a team meeting before the contest to clear the air
after entering the night with losses in nine of their previous 13.
The discussion didn't seem to resound early, as Portland jumped to a
35-24 lead after a quarter, the most points allowed by the Kings in
the opening period this year.
Sacramento (11-22) responded by holding Portland to 38 points
combined in the middle two frames.
The Kings' 19-point margin gradually got smaller as Lillard made
seven of his 11 shots in the final quarter, including five of eight
from 3-point range. Lillard's fourth-quarter total broke Kevin
Martin's mark of 24 for the most in any quarter at Sleep Train
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"That's the way Damian plays," Blazers coach Terry Stotts
said. "He's a competitor, and at no time does he ever think he's
out of the game. He's a special player."
So is Cousins, who recorded his 21st double-double of the season
and eighth in a row. His 35 points matched a season best.
"The big thing is that when things got rough at the end, guys
stayed together," he said. "Guys stayed poised and didn't get
rattled. That's a good step for us."
Thomas chipped in 22 points and eight assists, and forward
Derrick Williams contributed 14 points for the Kings. Sacramento
scored at least 100 points for the 10th straight games and the
16th time in the past 17.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points, eight rebounds and five
assists for Portland but struggled with his shooting. Cousins
and Gay consistently used a physical approach to push the
Blazers' big man far from the basket. Aldridge missed 12 of his
20 shots, including eight of 11 in the second half.
Portland (26-9) lost for the fourth time in six games.
NOTES: Blazers F Nicolas Batum wore a splint on his left middle
finger after suffering an avulsion fracture in Saturday's home
loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. His appearance kept Portland's
starting lineup intact, as it has been in all 35 games this
season. Batum finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. ...
Portland rookie G C.J. McCollum suited up for the first time
this season but didn't play. McCollum, the league's 10th overall
pick out of Lehigh, had offseason foot surgery. ... Kings C
DeMarcus Cousins and Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge were two of
three NBA players averaging at least 23 points and 11 rebounds
entering the night. Minnesota Timberwolves C Kevin Love was the
other. ... Sacramento G Marcus Thornton replaced G Ben McLemore
in the starting lineup. McLemore started the previous 26 games
after replacing Thornton as a starter six games into the season.
Thornton scored three points Tuesday, and McLemore had two.
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