Crawford leads charge against Kings, Blazers triumph in 101-89 win
Feels so good to be home, to sleep in your own bed, to be on your home court and to feed off the buzzing hometown crowd. After what seemed like forever, the Trail Blazers (10-7) took to the comfort of their 7-1 home record and faced a reeling Sacramento Kings (6-12) who they demolished in the second game of the season. Just minutes into the game, Portland’s big men fell deep into foul trouble, Marcus Camby, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kurt Thomas were sent to the bench and forced to play more bench minutes with a smaller lineup. Normally that would be concerning but besides DeMarcus Cousins prowling the paint, the Kings played weak inside defense and let the Blazer guards swarm the floor and go crazy, at one point building a 20 point lead. Jamal Crawford, Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews kept the Kings behind all game long, winning 101-89 in comfortable fashion in front of another sell-out Rose Garden crowd, only to face the Grizzlies and Warriors in a back-to-back-to-back schedule this week.
However it was ugly from tipoff, the Blazers could only manage 3-9 from the floor and fell behind six points, Camby and Aldridge fell victim to foul trouble trying to keep Cousins in check, it wasn’t until Portland figured out that Sacramento wasn’t fully committed to playing defense whatsoever, Matthews and Wallace are found wide open and walk under the basket for the easy look. Considering how mediocre both teams were playing it was like watching a seventh grade pick up game, Portland shooting 39%, Sacramento at 32% and both teams turning the ball over and fouling on every other possession, making the first quarter seem like a half hour-long. The Kings are suddenly up three but a tip in by Wallace ties everything at 21 points after one.
With Camby, Aldridge and Thomas sitting on the bench with two fouls, Craig “Rhino” Smith went to work and didn’t care what anyone had to think or say, driving the ball home and bullying the Kings defense. Crawford on the other hand would stun his defender with his crossovers (hence his snazzy nickname, Jamal Crossover), and had eight quick points as he connects high arching shots, helping improve Portland to 68% from the floor. The Kings would still be in the middle of everything, catching Portland flat-footed and lost on getting back on defense, forgetting at times where Tyreke Evans or Cousins were and Sacramento are down only six. Aldridge doesn’t score his first basket until the 3:46 mark and pushes the Blazers up ten. It would fester into a 13-0 run, capped by back-to-back threes from Wallace and Crawford. The second was all about Wallace, playing with that sore finger, he didn’t let that hamper his play, stealing two consecutive Kings possessions to find himself all alone on the fast break. The Blazers score 32 points in the quarter alone, a 20-4 Portland run gets the crowd pumping until Evans throws a chucker at the buzzer well beyond half court and hits nothing but net, the second time he’s done that, and the Blazers go into the half up 53-38.
Much like the first quarter, things got rocky for both clubs, mostly for Sacramento when Cousins went down on an ankle injury that looked much worse than it actually looked like, he limped off the court and into the locker room in pain but managed to come back later in the game. Raymond Felton and Aldridge extend Portland’s lead 61-46 but it was mainly a game plan of hurrying the ball and flinging it at the rim and preying to score, the Blazers were shooting around 27%. It took a Matthews three to put things at ease and put Portland up 74-56 and withstand a quick 8-0 Kings run.
Sacramento would come back behind by 13 points but it was never even close, Crawford would hit another three and would go on to connect 8-9 field goals. They hit 90 points with six minutes left and pretty soon Elliot Williams, Chris Johnson and Luke Babbitt made their appearance and Babbitt would be crowned the Chalupa man tonight, hitting a three to beat the Kings for the second time this season.
Four Blazer starters finished the night in double figures and Jamal Crawford had his best performance as a Trail Blazer this season. With Sacramento standing around on defense looking more like stone pillars than basketball players, Crawford found his stroke and led the team with 26 Pts, 5 Ast on 9-18 shooting and 2-5 from three, it took awhile for his shot to set but it worked in the end. Gerald Wallace was a game time decision based on his sore finger on his shooting hand, playing with a brace but played like nothing was wrong, he creams the Kings with 20 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl and a block on 9-12 shooting. Because the guards where shooting well and having to sit with nagging foul trouble, LaMarcus Aldridge was quiet for most of the night, not hitting his fifth basket till the fourth, he had 13 Pts but grabbing a game high 16 Reb and 5 Ast. Wesley Matthews had 14 Pts on 5-14 shooting and only 2-6 from downtown. Craig Smith played monster minutes tonight at 22 minutes and almost had a double-double, 10 Pts and 7 Reb.
Nic Batum played 19 minutes, had three rebounds and took one shot. He missed and never attempted another. Portland 46% for the night and drilled home 52 points in the paint and snap up a whopping 53 rebounds compared to 36 by Sacramento.
DeMarcus Cousins finished with 18 Pts and 13 Reb to lead the Kings in scoring. Former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans was kept to 9 Pts and after the first quarter, was barely given the ball for the rest of the night. Jimmer Freddette lead the bench with 13 Pts on 3-4 from three (much to the delight of BYU fans at the Rose Garden). Former Washington Huskie Isaiah Thomas had 11 Pts, and Francisco Garcia with 12 Pts. Former Blazer Travis Outlaw played just 7 minutes and didn’t score.
Good home win, glad to see the guys back and rested because they will need all the help they can get, Portland face Memphis tomorrow and fly out to Oakland on Wednesday.
photos courtesy of nba.com/blazers