NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 7th (All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (26-8) at Sacramento Kings (10-22), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - LaMarcus Aldridge aims to will the Portland Trail Blazers back into the win column when they make a quick stop in Sacramento Tuesday to take on the Kings at Sleep Train Arena.
The Blazers cannot afford to sleep on the Kings and have lost three of the last five games. Loss No. 8 (26-8) on the season arrived in hard fashion Saturday in a 101-99 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Blazers guard Damian Lillard scored on a driving basket in the lane in the waning seconds, but later missed on a chance to tie the game after Portland big man Robin Lopez stole Philadelphia's in-bounds pass.
"I had a good look," Lillard said after scoring 17 points. "Off-balance or not, I've got to make that."
The Sixers used a late 13-0 run in the fourth quarter and outscored the Blazers, 64-40, in the paint. Philly won despite losing the rebound battle, 59-43.
Aldridge led the Blazers with 29 points and 14 rebounds, and also swatted a season-high five shots. He is averaging 24.3 points per game in his last six games and has four double-doubles in that span. Aldridge passed Jerome Kersey to become the fourth-leading career scorer in franchise history.
Lopez ended with 14 points and 15 boards and Nicolas Batum added 10 rebounds and 10 assists to go along with four points before fouling out. He also suffered an avulsion fracture of his left middle finger and is questionable for Tuesday's game.
Portland, which is 13-4 on the road this season, will return home Wednesday to start a three-game stay versus Orlando, Boston and Cleveland.
Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum is questionable against the Kings after undergoing foot surgery in the offseason. McCollum, who traveled with the team to Sacramento, was recently assigned to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League and scored 24 points Saturday against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He was the 10th pick in the 2013 draft out of Lehigh University.
The start of a new year and a five-game homestand hasn't gone as planned for the Kings, as they fell to 0-2 on the residency following Saturday's 113-103 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.
DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 11 boards, while Isaiah Thomas scored 21 and Rudy Gay ended with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Thompson added 15 points and 14 rebounds for Sacramento, which lost despite scoring 100 or more points in nine straight and 15 of the past 16 contests.
Sacramento was able to creep within four at 103-99, then Charlotte scored nine of the next 10 points to put the game out of reach.
"We can't play to the level of the competition," Thompson said. "No disrespect to them, but the games we play against San Antonio, Houston or Miami our defense is up, making deflections and things like that. When we play the lower-echelon teams, we have to have that same type of intensity."
The Kings, who fell to 6-13 at home, have allowed the last nine opponents to reach the 100-point mark (111.8 ppg) and will also host Orlando and Cleveland.
Tuesday's showdown between the Kings and Blazers pits an intriguing matchup in the paint between Cousins and Aldridge. Cousins has posted an average of 24.3 points and 13.9 rebounds in his last seven games. Cousins, Aldridge and Kevin Love of Minnesota are the only three players averaging at least 23 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Portland has beaten Sacramento twice already this season and is 15-5 in the past 20 meetings between the teams. The two western foes have split the last 18 games in California's capital.
01/07 10:37:55 ET