What 2 Watch 4 - Trail Blazers Vs. Kings

November 9, 2013

What 2 Watch 4 - Trail Blazers Vs. Kings
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Robin Lopez vs. DeMarcus Cousins

To start Friday night's game against the Sacramento Kings at the Moda Center, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts called a play for Robin Lopez on Portland's first offensive possession. The play resulted in Kings center DeMarcus Cousins fouling Lopez, who calmly stepped to the line and made both free throws to give the Trail Blazers a 2-0 lead out of the gate.

That play was a perfect example of what the Trail Blazers would need from Lopez in order to defeat the Kings. He wouldn't have to score much, just enough to keep Cousins honest on the defensive end. It didn't matter that Cousins would go on to outscore Lopez 35-11, what mattered was that the message was sent early that Lopez wouldn't allow his counterpart to save all of his energy for the offensive end.

So as the Trail Blazers and the Kings meet again Saturday night, this time at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, remember that a team need not win every positional battle to ultimately win the war. For Lopez, the goal is to keep Cousins occupied. Everything else is ancillary.

Robin Lopez

• Tied with Milwaukee's Larry Sanders and Detroit's Josh Smith for seventh in the NBA in blocks per game with 2.0
• Eighth in the NBA in opponents field goal percentage at the rim at 52 percent (minimum eight contested shot at the rim per game).
• Recently helped launch the "Red Big" campaign, whose goal is to engage young readers and raise achievement across Oregon and Washington

DeMarcus Cousins

• Second in the league in point per 100 possessions with 34.31
• Second in the league in Usage Percentage, which tracks what percentage of a team's offensive possessions that a player uses while on the court, at 34 percent (minimum three games played)
• Signed a new four-year contract in the offseason to stay in Sacramento