• The Blazers refused to go down to the Kings for the second night in a row, outplaying Sacramento for most of the game which enabled them to cruise to a 102-90 victory in Portland.

    It was a game of runs in the first quarter as both teams had offensive stints of dominance. The Kings were steady on both ends, carrying over some of the qualities that gave them success just a night ago in Sacramento.

    Skal Labissiere got off to a rough start shooting 0-of-5 from the field in the first. He was getting great looks but the ball just wasn’t bouncing his way. Labissiere was clearly frustrated at the lack of net he was getting, bellowing out after his fifth consecutive miss. After his rough start, he wouldn’t play in the second quarter.

    Sacramento were careless near the end of the quarter, turning the ball over numerous times and it allowed the Blazers to sneak ahead by one-point heading into the second. George Hill looked solid through 12 minutes, totaling eight early points and playing with aggression.

    Hill failed to register a single-point in the second quarter following his outburst to start the game. That’s something we have seen become a trend lately. Hill would come out hot and look like the player the Kings thought he would be when he signed the dotted line, but then he goes quiet for the remainder of the game. It’s promising to see such outbursts but he needs to score with some consistency as Sacramento need all the help they can get on offense.

    Through the second period the Kings weren’t perfect offensively but their scrappy play on defense helped keep them level with the Blazers. The lineup adjustments made on Friday have helped create a little more balance on both sides of the ball especially defensively.

    Despite the uptick in defensive effort, the offense wasn’t doing enough for the Kings to make a solid run and assert themselves in-front. Portland managed to find themselves offensively and got out to a 53-41 halftime lead.

    The Kings only shot 35.6 percent through 24 minutes which is why they fell behind at the half. They just weren’t making shots with enough consistency and turning the ball over eight times didn’t help either. The Blazers’ hot shooting in the second quarter bumped up their percentage to 51.3 (20-of-39).

    Jusuf Nurkic was the best Blazer on the floor through two quarters posting 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks in just 14 minutes. Zach Randolph led all scorers with 12 points at halftime, a significant improvement after going scoreless last night. However, his poor defense was still a detriment and it’s a big reason why Nurkic had it going.

    The offensive woes became even more of an issue to start the third as the Kings couldn’t hit anything, while the Blazers were lighting them up. Portland went up 62-41 about three minutes into the third but Sacramento managed to stabilize themselves and bounce back.

    They got to within 12 but that’s as close as they would get as Portland recovered from the skid and stretched the lead back to over 20. Damian Lillard was a big reason for the Blazers’ dominance in the third as he rattled off 10 points in the quarter alone. They weren’t going to let the Kings dictate the game like they did in Sacramento so it’s no surprise to see them make adjustments and really pile it on the Kings.

    Sacramento began the fourth quarter in a 17-point hole but they didn’t let that phase them, wasting no time cutting into the deficit. However, the fourth played a similar tune to the third as the Kings would only get as close as 12 before the Blazers would pull away again.

    The better team simply played better tonight. Portland had an off night on Friday and the Kings cashed in, however, it was always going to be tough to take them down again. The Blazers are going to fight for a playoff spot yet again this season, so coming away with one win from two is certainly something to be proud of for Sacramento.

    Game Notes

    • Willie Cauley-Stein followed up his big night in Sacramento with another strong performance posting 18 points, nine rebounds, three steals and one block in 32 minutes off the bench. He shot 6-of-13 from the field, 1-of-1 from three (first career) and 5-of-5 at the line. Cauley-Stein was the best player on the floor again for the Kings so it would seem a move to the bench has given him a second wind.
    • Frank Mason played 19 tidy minutes off the bench for 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Mason was solid for most of the game but turned the ball over a few times when he really shouldn’t have. Nonetheless, the last two games have been promising for the young guard and he looks to be a firm part of the rotation.
    • The Kings shot just 38.2 percent from the field on the night and they’re not going to be able to win games playing that way. Defensively they were okay but the Blazers came out hot tonight and were determined not to make the same mistake twice.
    • Garrett Temple struggled to get anything going tonight shooting 0-of-9 from the field. Most of his looks were decent but they just weren’t dropping. Skal Labissiere was in a similar boat going 0-of-8 from the floor. It was just one of those nights.
    • Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 47 points on 17-of-34 shooting and that was a big difference from the previous game when they combined to shoot 17-of-40. The Blazers live and die by those two so depending on how they play, the result will eventuate accordingly.

    The Kings are back in action on Monday against the Nuggets. It’ll be the second meeting between the two teams this season, Denver taking the first meeting 96-79. They’re a team that present some mismatches for the Kings. Guarding the frontcourt of Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic is going to be a challenge so Dave Joerger is going to have to gameplan specifically for those two as rolling out Zach Randolph to guard them is asking for trouble.

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