NBA.com Daily Confidential

Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan is impressed with the strides his young team has made from a year ago, but winning on the road is still causing them problems.

The Trail Blazers try to win consecutive road games for the first time in almost a year Saturday when they visit the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena.

Portland (6-7) erased a 14-point deficit Wednesday in its 100-97 victory over New Jersey as Zach Randolph scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half. The Blazers have won four games this season when trailing after three quarters after winning only five such games last season.

``It's a lot different. Last year we probably would have given up,'' said Randolph, who also grabbed eight rebounds. ``This is a different team. Different players. Different attitude.''

Portland had a season-low six turnovers Wednesday after averaging 16.1 through its first 12 games.

Randolph has recorded eight double-doubles and has taken a leadership role on a team with an average age of 24.7 years - tied with Milwaukee for the fourth-youngest in the NBA.

``Every night is a fight for this team,'' McMillan said. ``We are a team that is very young and just learning how to play. But I really like the progress we're making.''

While the Blazers have shown improvements from a year ago, they are still struggling away from the Rose Garden.

Portland had the worst road record in the NBA last year at 6-35, and finished the season with 16 straight road losses.

The Blazers are 2-5 on the road this season, and are averaging the fourth-fewest points on the road at 91.4 points.

They defeated the Nets 86-68 in their last road game last Saturday, and have not won consecutive road games since Dec. 23 and 26, 2005, with a 105-92 victory over the Kings (6-5) in the second game.

Portland lost its final two meetings with Sacramento last season, but has not lost three straight to the Kings since April 8-Dec. 26, 2001.

The Kings snapped a three-game losing streak Friday with a 109-100 victory over Seattle as a new star is emerging in Sacramento's lineup. With Ron Artest resting his aching lower back, Kevin Martin scored a career-high 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

Martin made all five of his shots in the third quarter and seven straight at one point in the second half, including three 3-pointers.

``I never go into a game feeling like I need to score big,'' said Martin, who scored 24 second-half points. ``I know I have a lot of veterans that can put the ball in the hole just like me.''

Martin averaged 10.8 points last season, but is averaging 24.7 points on 54 percent shooting this season. He made 4-of-7 3-pointers on Friday, and is shooting 59.1 percent (13 for 22) from behind the arc his last five games

``He's taken a pretty big step,'' Sacramento coach Eric Musselman said. ``He's going to keep getting better.''

Behind Martin's remarkable outing, the Kings shot a season-high 51.2 percent and had six players in double figures against the SuperSonics.

After averaging just 91 points and failing to reach 100 points in any of their first five games, the Kings have averaged 105 points while topping the century mark five times in the last seven games.

The Kings opened the season winning their first four home games, but have lost their last two at Arco Arena.

Artest, who is averaging 18 points and 8.0 rebounds in 10 games, is questionable for this game.


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