Trail Blazers Rally, Twice, To Beat The Kings In Sacramento For A Second Time

by Casey Holdahl
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SACRAMENTO -- You almost need a historic offensive performance to win a game in which your opponent shoots better than 50 percent from both the field and from three while scoring more than 120 points. The Trail Blazers got just that from their backcourt Wednesday night in Sacramento.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 68 points, 23 assists and just one turnover to lead the Trail Blazers to a 132-126 come-from-behind victory versus the Kings at Golden1 Center.

“It’s a long game, especially with the way the NBA has kind of shifted,” said McCollum. “Everybody is shooting a lot of threes, the Kings specifically, they play really fast. If you look at what we’ve gone through we’ve been up 20 and lost, too, so you’re never really out of a game. No fans, no real momentum, just out there kind of hooping, so if you can string together some stops, you’re always able to get back into it."

The Trail Blazers are now 7-4 overall and 4-2 on the road this season. Portland has now won four straight and have won the season series versus the Kings with one game left to play at the Moda Center.

After blowing out the Kings Saturday night, the Trail Blazers were sure to have a tougher test in the Wednesday night rematch. It didn’t take long for that assumption to be proven accurate, as the Kings made seven of their first eight attempts on the way to surpassing 30 before the three minute mark of the first quarter.

Portland had their offense working as well, but with the Kings shooting 68 percent from the field and 64 percent from three, they entered the second quarter trailing 43-33. And had it not been for a pair of Gary Trent Jr. three-pointers to end the quarter, Portland would have had it much worse.

Though worse wouldn’t wait too long to make an appearance. With Portland’s defense having little success slowing the Kings’ shooters, Sacramento took their largest lead of the night at 58-38 with 7:20 to play in the first half thanks to a 12-0 run.

But behind the play of Lillard and McCollum, both in finding their own shots while also creating for others, the Trail Blazers outscored the Kings 24-10 after Sacramento’s run to cut a 20-point deficit down to three by the intermission.

Though once again the Kings, thanks in large part to their three-point shooting, reclaimed a considerable lead. The Kings went on another run, this of the 12-2 variety, to take a 19-point lead with a little more than six minutes to play in the quarter.

Coming back from one 20-point deficit is hard enough, but doing it twice versus a team shooting as well as the Kings seemed almost impossible. Simply put, they’d have to play nearly mistake-free basketball in order to come away with the win.

And that’s what they got from their backcourt, who either scored or assisted on all 13 of Portland’s field goals in the third quarter. But they also got contributions up and down the roster on both sides of the ball, answering the Kings 12-2 with one of their own, all on threes from Lillard, McCollum, Trent Jr. and Robert Covington, to get Sacramento’s lead back to single digits.

“Sacramento was hot all night,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “They were shooting 60 percent from three almost all night, so they’ve got some great shooters. More than anything else, I like the way we fought back after things weren’t going our way in the third quarter.”

Portland scored the first seven points of the fourth to take their first lead since the first 30 seconds of the first quarter. The lead would flip-flop for much of the fourth, though a mini 7-0 run between the 5:29 and 4:20 marks would allow Portland to take a 123-117. After two rallies, that would be enough separation for the Trail Blazers to ride out the win.

“I think we’ve always been that team that didn’t lose fight, we’ve always stayed in it and fought to the end,” said Lillard. “But I think we a little bit more experienced now. We brought in some guys with experience and we’re starting to trust what our coaches are putting in with the game plans and the changes we’ve made defensively, and offensively, letting the ball bounce around. We’re just trusting and I think tonight, it got bad early, we was down 20 and we didn’t stop trusting. We didn’t go our own ways. We stayed together, we fought through it together, we got back into it.”

Lillard finished the game with 40 points, 13 assists, three steals and no turnovers in just under 42 minutes. The 6-3 guard in his eighth season out of Weber State is the first player since turnovers became an official stat to finish with at least 40 points, 13 assists and no turnovers.

“I take pride in taking care of the basketball,” said Lillard. “I know it’s in my hands a lot, it’s in CJ’s hands a lot and if we don’t take care of the basketball, our team is going to suffer because of it.”

While McCollum didn’t score as many points, he was nearly as flawless, turning the ball over just once while handing out 10 assists to go with 28 points in 42 minutes.

Wednesday’s game was the first time in their partnership in Portland that Lillard and McCollum have both tallied at least 10 assists assists in the same game. What’s more, Lillard and McCollum are the first Trail Blazers duo since Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter to both have at least 25 points and 10 assists in the same game.

Jusuf Nurkic, who was questionable to play Wednesday night with a quad contusion, scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter while also grabbing 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 30 minutes.

“(Nurkic) likes playing in Sacramento, I think,” said Stotts. “This is where he got his 5x5 game and last time we played here was his best game so far this season and he had an impact on the game. Obviously he got four fouls in the third and took him out but he came back. For us, his defense really impacts our game. I think sometimes his offense gets overshadowed by how important he is defensively for us.”

Robert Covington scored all 12 of his points off three while also grabbing six rebounds. Trent Jr. went 6-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from three for 16 points in 23 minutes off the bench.

Six Kings players finished in double figured led by 29 points from De’Aaron Fox. Buddy Heild added 26 and both Richaun Holmes and Tyrese Haliburton finished with 17 points.

Next up, the Trail Blazers head back to Portland to host the Pacers in the second game of a back-to-back. Tipoff is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.


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