Team Records: Portland (13-9) at Sacramento (6-15)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 AM the Game.
Vegas Line: Portland -3.5.
Refs: Zach Zarba, Kane Fitzgerald, James Williams.
The Skinny: The Blazers look to continue the momentum from their biggest win in nearly 15 years as they thrashed the Bobcats by 44 last night. They will also look to stop their road woes as Portland has struggled mightily on the road all year. Sacramento comes in having lost 5 straight.
Last Time They Met: The game remained close through the first quarter but a 20-2 Portland run late in the second put the game away for good. Jamal Crawford led Portland with 26 in the win.
Projected Kings Lineup:
PF-Jason Thompson (Rider-4th Season) 7.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, .8 APG.
SF-John Salmons (Miami (FL)-10th Season)-7.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.8 APG.
C-DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky-2nd Season)-15 PPG, 11.1 RPG, .9 APG
SG-Tyreke Evans (Memphis-3rd Season)-16.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5 APG.
PG-Jimmer Fredette (BYU-Rookie)-8.6 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 2 APG.
Player to Watch-Tyreke Evans (pictured at right)-When Evans won the Rookie of the Year crown a few years back, many in the NBA thought he was a budding star. Yet the past year plus his career has taken one giant step sideways and in fact he is statistically doing worse than he was his rookie year. While some of it may come down to the fact that opposing teams are now respecting him and game planning for him more directly, a lot of it is Tyreke himself. Like Cousins, he too often tries to do it all on his own on offense and loses focus on defense. Evans will have to regain this focus if he is to have a chance at recognizing what many saw as his true potential after his impressive rookie season.
Did You Know?: Head Coach Keith Smart is perhaps best remembered for hitting the title winning shot for Indiana in the 1987 NCAA Championship Game.
Portland: Out-C Greg Oden, SF Nicolas Batum (Knee).
Sacramento: Out-SG Marcus Thornton (Thigh).
Re-Evaluating Sacramento: Portland South?:
There may be no franchise with more Portland connections than the Sacramento Kings. Besides their President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie (the 1970-71 rookie of the year for Portland), the Kings also employ several other former Blazers. GM Wayne Cooper played for the Blazers from five seasons in two different stints and assistant coach Jim Eyen was an assistant for Portland from 1997-2001. Oh and lets not forget ex-Blazer Travis Outlaw, who now plays for Sacramento. While this means little, it is still interesting that the opposing NBA team closest to Portland may also be the one with the deepest ties to Portland itself.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. This is a team Portland should beat easily if they are ready to go. They have to break the cycle of playing emotionless on the road if they want to get this win.
Sacramento wins if: They score at least 20 fast break points. The Kings are not a great offensive team. They will need to get a lot of easy baskets to have a shot against Portland, especially with Marcus Thornton still out.