NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, December 23rd (All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (13-12) at Sacramento Kings (8-18), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Portland Trail Blazers will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to six games when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
Portland has rattled off five consecutive wins and the most recent triumph came Saturday night against the visiting Phoenix Suns. The Trail Blazers used a game-high 25 points from rookie Damian Lillard to down the Suns 96-93.
However, while the Blazers are on their longest winning streak since a six- gamer from Feb. 5-16, 2011, the Kings have lost six of their last seven contests. Making matters worse, it was announced Saturday that Sacramento's leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended indefinitely by the team for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team."
Cousins was benched for the second half of his team's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. It was later revealed that Cousins was being disciplined for getting into a verbal altercation with head coach Keith Smart during halftime of that game.
Cousins, a third-year forward out of Kentucky, is averaging 16.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game this season.
The Kings enter Sunday's game with an 8-18 record on the season after getting dealt a 97-85 road loss by the Clippers. Chris Paul tallied 24 points, 13 assists and five steals to lead the way for L.A. Jimmer Fredette netted 16 points off the bench to pace the Kings.
Portland will try to take advantage of Cousins' absence when it aims for another victory on Sunday.
Lillard, the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft out of Weber State, hit 7-of-13 shots en route to his 25-point night against the Suns. The 22-year-old was a combined 8-of-28 from the field in two outings prior to Saturday's win.
J.J. Hickson posted a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds for Portland, which received 17 points and nine boards from LaMarcus Aldridge in his return from an ankle injury. Aldridge had missed one game with an ankle injury.
Nicolas Batum scored 13 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists in the win.
"We found a way to win," Portland head coach Terry Stotts said. "Our rebounding in the second half, the fourth quarter, particularly, was very good, and we held [the Suns] to 40 percent shooting the second half."
Although Portland has won five in a row, each of those victories came at home, where the Blazers are 9-4 this season compared to a 4-8 record on the road.
The Kings, meanwhile, are 7-7 at home this season compared to a dismal 1-11 mark on the road.
Sacramento also has taken three of its last four games against the Blazers but Portland has claimed six of eight at Sleep Train Arena.
12/23 10:34:45 ET