First Night Of Back-To-Back Goes Bad In Sacramento

by Casey Holdahl
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SACRAMENTO -- The Portland Trail Blazers fell to 8-7 overall and 2-3 on the road this season with an 86-82 loss to the Sacramento Kings Friday night at the Moda Center.  The Trail Blazers have now lost three-straight away from the Moda Center and have not won a road game since the first week of the season.

"It's tough to win on the road," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "Sacramento played extremely hard. They played with desperation defensively, they were aggressive, we didn't handle that very well. You've got to give them credit but it's hard to win a game shooting 37 percent. There are a lot of areas we could have played better, offensively and defensively."

Portland shot just 37 percent from the field and 28 percent from three in the loss while turning the ball over 18 times, leading to 13 Sacramento points. The nadir of Portland's night came during a stretch between the first and second quarters. After taking a five-point lead thanks to a Damian Lillard 11-foot fadeaway with 3:28 to play in the first quarter, the Trail Blazers failed to make another field goal until the 6:58 mark of the second quarter against a Kings team coming off a 46-point loss Wednesday night.

"I didn't think we executed when we needed to at times, we didn't set screens when we needed to at times," said Stotts. "We had too many turnovers in the first half, misreads or whatever... They were very effective at the rim, we missed some easy ones at the rim. It's not one thing."

Despite shooting about as poorly as they could all night, Portland still went into the fourth quarter tied at 60-60. But in a game where the largest lead was eight points, the seven-point lead the Kings managed to take after a Willie Cauley-Stein tip-in with 2:24 to play in regulation proved insurmountable for a Trail Blazers team that has made a habit of losing close games this season.

"It seemed like we was moving in the right direction and tonight I didn't think we played bad defensively, but offensively we didn't execute well," said Damian Lillard. "We allowed them to disrupt a lot of the stuff we do. The loose ball, they got 'em. We allowed them to many second and third opportunities and it hurt us. We put ourselves in a position where it was a back-and-forth game but they had the lead and we needed to make a few more plays than they did and we just weren't able to do that."

Portland was led by Lillard, who went 9-of-25 from the field for 29 points to go with four assists and two steals in just under 37 minutes.

CJ MCCollum went 8-of-15 for 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 minutes. No other Trail Blazer scored more than six points.

"We've got to knock down open shots, finish in transition," said McCollum. "I think I had four turnovers, a couple turnovers I shouldn't have had but overall we've just got to do a better job."

Cauley-Stein came off the bench to put up a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. Both George Hill and Garrett Temple added 14 points and Kosta Koutos added 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in 32 minutes.

Next up, both teams head to Portland for the rubber match Saturday night at the Moda Center, after which the Trail Blazers head out for a five-game road trip.

"We've got to tighten up," said Lillard. "When you in a position where you've got an opportunity like that where we could be going home 9-6 playing against them again on our home floor with a chance to be 10-6 going into this road trip, in our minds we've got to take ourselves to that next level. We've got to come in here and get this done and we just didn't get it done."

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.