Trail Blazers Vs. Kings Preview
January 7th, 2014
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
The Portland Trail Blazers are the NBA's best 3-point shooting team, though they're coming off their worst performance from beyond the arc this season.
Perhaps they'll be able to get back on track against one of the league's worst perimeter defensive clubs.
Portland seeks its third straight win in the season series Tuesday night when it visits the Sacramento Kings.
While the surprising Blazers (26-8) lead the NBA with 532 3-point field-goals, they had been particularly prolific from deep recently.
They averaged 13.0 3-pointers over a recent 10-game span, including a 21-of-33 shooting performance in Thursday's 134-104 win over Charlotte. With that effort, Portland became the first team in NBA history to hit 20 3s twice in a single season.
The Blazers, however, had their franchise-record run of eight consecutive games with at least eight 3-pointers end Saturday. They went a season-worst 3 for 22 from beyond the arc and blew a seven-point fourth-quarter lead in a 101-99 loss to visiting Philadelphia.
Damian Lillard (109) and Wesley Matthews (90) rank among league leaders in 3-pointers made but went a combined 1 for 11 against the 76ers. Lillard, who had gone 40 for 72 (55.6 percent) from beyond the arc in his previous eight games, also missed a layup at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
"I had a good look," Lillard said. "Off-balance or not, I've got to make that."
It might not take Portland long to bounce back against the last-place Kings (10-22), who rank near the bottom of the league with a 39.2 defensive 3-point percentage. They allowed visiting Charlotte to hit 9 of 15 from distance in Saturday's 113-103 loss in Sacramento.
The Kings also are near the bottom of the NBA in points allowed (104.5) and defensive field-goal percentage (47.5). They've allowed nine straight opponents to reach 100 points, giving up an average of 111.8 points on 50.6 percent shooting over that stretch.
"It's disappointing - we're not defending," coach Michael Malone said. "… It's becoming a broken record."
With Matthews and Nicolas Batum teaming to go 10 for 18, Portland went 19 for 43 from beyond the arc while winning the first two meetings by double digits.
Batum is probable for this matchup despite sustaining an avulsion fracture of his left middle finger Saturday.
Lillard had 22 points and four 3-pointers in a 104-91 home win Nov. 8, but had one of the worst performances of his career with four points on 1-of-15 shooting in a 96-85 victory in Sacramento the following evening.
The Blazers will certainly have to keep an eye on Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, who totaled 68 points and 21 rebounds in the two contests. He's also averaged 26.3 and 13.7, respectively, in his last seven home games.
Sacramento has dropped eight of 12 since acquiring Rudy Gay, though he's averaging 19.5 points on 49.7 percent shooting with the Kings. He tied a season high with 30 points to go with 10 rebounds against the Blazers on Nov. 17 while with Toronto.
Isaiah Thomas has been on a roll, averaging 22.0 points while hitting 21 of 44 from 3-point range over his last seven games.
Portland is expected to activate C.J. McCollum, the 10th overall pick who has yet to play after suffering a fractured foot in the preseason. He went 17 for 36 - but 1 for 9 from 3-point range - and averaged 18.5 points in two D-League games as part of his rehab stint.
The Blazers have won the last three meetings overall.